He is the candidate nominated by Trump to do the Columbus suburb MAGA again. But while former energy lobbyist Mike Carey is happy to brag about the former president’s endorsement in the GOP primary, he’s not as keen on talking about his closeness to one of the scandals of Ohio’s costliest corruption.
Carey’s campaign website portrays him as an “outsider” who “has spent his career holding politicians accountable and fighting for working class families.” But he only vaguely mentions his “20-plus-year career as an executive in the US energy industry.”
For eight years, Carey worked as Vice President of Government Affairs at Murray Energy Corporation, once one of the largest coal companies and most notorious violators of environmental laws. He was Bob Murray’s right-hand man, according to three sources who worked with and against Carey on environmental issues at Ohio State House. He is also currently chairman of the board of the Ohio Coal Association, which has long had a close relationship with Murray Energy.
Murray Energy filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and has since reappeared as American Consolidated Natural Resources Inc., where Carey currently works and holds the same position.
Bob Murray, CEO of Murray Energy, passed away in October 2020.
Neither Carey nor Murray Energy have been charged with crimes related to the Generation Now inquiry, which resulted in federal charges against several big Ohio players and, ultimately, the expulsion of former President Larry Householder of the Ohio House.
But as Murray’s main lobbyist, quietly referred to as “Company B” in the criminal complaint against Householder, Carey had a front row seat to one of Ohio’s biggest corruption scandals.
Blaine Kelly, Carey’s campaign manager, said Carey “was making no effort to get HB 6 through”.
However, after this story was published, an email surfaced from a mine of correspondence provided by Ohio House to the Justice Department during their investigation of HB 6. In this email, Carey appears to have visibility into an effort to shape HB 6, including included a note naming certain amendments the Ohio Coal Association wanted in the bill.
The email dated May 9, 2019, obtained through a public registration request from the Energy & Policy Institute and provided to The Daily Beast by the Energy Watch Group, was from the President of Ohio Coal Association, Michael Cope, with the subject “Ohio Coal Association Memo Re: HB 6 possible modifications.
Carey is one of many copied to the email, which was also sent to the chairs of the committees and subcommittees that oversaw the bill, as well as a senior household policy official. .
“We would like to thank President Callender for participating in a conference call yesterday with the Ohio Coal Association. We really appreciate his help and openness / The President suggested we send this to all of you, ”Cope wrote, referring to Republican Republican Rep for the State of Ohio, Jamie Callender, co-sponsor of the bill. .
“We support HB6 in general, but believe the attached memo will express our position more fully. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know, ”Cope continued.
In an email to The Daily Beast, Cope said the reference to the “president” was Callender, not Carey, who chairs the OCA.
“Neither the OCA nor our member companies have taken a position on HB 6.” he said in an email.
When asked to clarify – since his 2019 email said “We support HB6 in general” – Cope replied, “We have not taken a position on the final bill.”
The Carey campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the email.
The scandal revolves around HB 6, which was a billion dollar bailout for the state’s nuclear industry.
At the heart of the deal is a $ 60 million slush fund known as Generation Now, funded primarily by nuclear power company FirstEnergy. According to federal court documents, Householder, with the help of his senior collaborator Jeffrey Longstreth, used the slush fund as a secret piggy bank to mount a successful campaign for Householder to become Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives in 2018 In return for largesse, according to court documents, Householder used the speaker’s hammer to pass HB 6.
In the fall of 2018, according to court documents, Householder and his allies focused on using Generation Now’s money to ensure candidates who supported him and his presidency were elected. To this end, Householder and his allies orchestrated the creation of a black money group—identified by the Columbus Expedition and Cincinnati Applicant under the name “Hardworking Ohioans Inc.” – for a spending of $ 1.5 million on negative advertising.
Generation Now and FirstEnergy provided the large amount of funding for the black money group’s advertisements. Among the spots paid by the cut was an ad that showed Ohio Democrat Dan Foley “passing a field field sobriety test, but only receiving a speeding ticket,” court documents show . Foley, who “would have had a 10 point lead before the ad aired” lost his run and “media reports credited the [Hardworking Ohioans] announcement with tipping the scales, ”according to an FBI affidavit in support of a criminal complaint.
Court documents show Murray Energy, where Carey worked as a senior lobbyist, provided $ 100,000 in funding for the Hardworking Ohioans negative ad campaign. Prosecutors called Murray, who has not been charged in connection with the scheme, “an energy company whose interests aligned with [FirstEnergy]. “
Despite being a coal company, Murray nonetheless found common cause with FirstEnergy, Householder and Generation Now; their legislative action in favor of the nuclear industry also contained marginal benefits for the coal industry.
When Householder and his allies passed the HB 6 Nuclear Rescue Bill, the legislation documents provided at a struggling coal-fired power plant in Ohio, which was a key customer of Murray Energy’s coal supplies.
Carey’s employer didn’t just mix his money and interests with the Generation Now slush fund. He also wooed one of the main architects charged with the larger project behind him, Householder’s senior assistant and former Generation Now chief Jeff Longstreth.
Two years before Generation Now was founded, Murray Energy invited Longstreth to a Republican Governors Association event in 2015 as a guest of the company, according to documents obtained by the Business Watch Group, Documented.
A report from August 2020 in the Cincinnati Applicant details additional ties between Murray Energy and Longstreth, including that in 2014 his company was paid for its work on legislative races in West Virginia by a PAC called Moving West Virginia Forward, funded primarily by Murray Energy.
Longstreth pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in October 2020 in connection with his role in the Generation Now program.
The Ohio House of Representatives expelled Householder in June. He is still awaiting trial and has pleaded not guilty.
Trump’s endorsement of Carey in the crowded field vying to replace retired Rep. Steve Stivers could give him a head start in a district where support for the former president runs deep. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski hit the campaign trail for Carey.
But the mentions aren’t Carey’s first interaction with Trump’s orbit.
From his position as an “outsider” at Murray Energy, Carey joined his boss, Bob Murray, and Andrew Wheeler, then a lobbyist for Murray who later became the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, to move the agenda of their company in a meeting with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. His attendance at three meetings with Trump officials are detailed in Wheeler’s confirmation of charges hearing documents.
It was at that meeting where Murray, who donated $ 300,000 to Trump’s inauguration, handed over a wishlist of environmental regulatory rollbacks that the New York Times, has become a to-do list for the Trump administration.
Murray Energy of course did not get everything it wanted from the Trump administration.
In 2018, Murray Energy donated $ 1 million to America First Action, four days after Murray himself asked the White House to use federal funds to save a utility that bought coal from his company. The administration said no.
Carey’s aggressive advocacy for the coal industry is well known. A 2011 profile in Politico details his involvement in anti-climate campaigns targeting politicians at all levels and describes him as a “national voice” in this arena.
A group led by Carey ran ads against John Kerry, then a senator from Massachusetts, when he ran for president in 2004 and Barack Obama when he ran for president in 2008. Another group that he headed, the American Council for Affordable and Reliable Energy, ran advertisements against the legislation. aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions targeting Democratic senators from Arkansas to Missouri, according to the Politico profile.
“The biggest laugh is this claim that he’s an ‘outsider’,” said Mark Strickland, who served as energy advisor to former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and had frequent interactions with Carey. “You can’t be more on the inside than Mike Carey.”
Kelly, Carey’s campaign manager, said the distinction “from the outside” was “pretty obvious.”
“He’s not a politician, he’s never held an elected office,” Kelly said. “He is certainly not a politician.
Carey’s attacks, however, aren’t limited to Democratic opponents and can be personal.
In 2016, Mike Hartley, a longtime Republican political agent from Ohio, found himself on Carey’s wrong side after working to scrap the legislation Carey had been pushing to pass. Right after Bill was vetoed, Carey asked him to meet him at his office.
“It was basically a meeting to say ‘stay out of my way or I’ll run over you’,” Hartley said.
Kelly called the allegation “totally false”.
“Hartley is a serial liar who has publicly supported two of our opponents in this race,” said Kelly. “This typical insider attack won’t move the needle for him.”
Yet when Hartley saw that Carey had received Trump’s approval, he had had enough.
“I’m so sick of those corrupt, booted, thug assholes who think they’re above the law and think they can get away with threats,” Hartley said. “Someone like Mike Carey is absolutely the last person who should be a congressman – literally the swampiest swamp creature there is. “