Sen. Joe Manchin Was A Headliner At A Secretive Coal CEOs' Confab

The West Virginia Democrat's conflict of interest is showing as he complains about efforts to battle climate change in the president's infrastructure package.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a key foil of Democratic plans to fight climate change, was a top speaker at a recent secretive confab of coal company executives.

Manchin’s role was revealed when the event program and a video touting the “Coal and Investment Leadership Forum” in September was unearthed by an investigative journalist for Documented. The three-day, invitation-only event was held in Virginia at the luxe Olde Farm golf resort, owned by Jim McGlothlin, a founding partner of the United Coal Co., Documented reported Monday.

Those attending — which included coal and energy CEOs and other top executives and bankers, according to an event roster — had to pony up $7,000, plus lodging expenses, according to a website’s information on the gathering, which was tracked by Documented.

Screen Shot/Leadership Forum/Courtesy of Documented

Manchin’s headline billing adds to the evidence of his powerful connections to key players in the fossil fuel business and highlights his investments in the industry even as he chairs the Senate’s influential Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The senator who has become “America’s climate decider-in-chief ... has a massive climate conflict of interest,” The Guardian noted in a Sept. 30 article.

On Monday, Manchin again criticized the Biden administration’s “Build Back Better” infrastructure proposal, which includes measures to battle climate change. Manchin had already won major concessions in the shrinking legislative package over the issue — and had blocked a paid family leave provision — by indicating that he would at one point support some plan.

“We must allow time for complete transparency and analysis on the impact of changes to our tax code and energy and climate policies,” Manchin said at a news conference Monday on Capitol Hill.

The bulk of the Build Back Better legislation is meant to address the worsening climate crisis.

Meanwhile, according to his financial disclosures, Manchin last year earned at least $490,000 from his co-ownership of Enersystems, a coal company he founded. (His Senate salary is $174,000). He owns as much as $5 million in stock in the company.

Manchin has emphasized that his holdings are in a blind trust, but he’s well aware that his support for the fossil fuel industry benefits Enersystems. The company is now run by his son, The New Yorker noted in a story last week.

He’s also the U.S. senator who has received the most political donations from the oil, gas, and coal industries, reported The New Yorker.

Manchin’s fellow senator from West Virginia, Shelley Moore Capito (R), was also a speaker at the coal executives’ huddle.

“I know both of these individuals well,” boasted Olde Farm manager and Chief Operating Officer Larry Kleine in a video touting the event (see it up top). “You’d be really hard-pressed to find two more influential people in politics right now, and I’m sure you’ll be curious about what they have to say.”

Manchin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Check out the full story and more coal country background on Manchin in Documented here.