In the 2014 Gubernatorial primary, Katie McGinty came under scrutiny for receiving $120,000 in campaign contributions from coal company owner Ray Bologna Sr, and after reviewing McGinty’s federal campaign finance reports for her 2016 Senate campaign, it turns out that Ray Bologna Sr and his family have donated $21,600 to McGinty’s current campaign. StateImpact NPR reported that in 2005 Katie McGinty, then the Department of Environmental Protection Secretary under Governor Ed Rendell, played an important role in expediting a permit for a coal waste, or coke, power plant owned by Ray Bologna Sr.
According to StateImpact, the Bologna family “owns the site of a massive pile of waste coal in Washington County,” and is “said to be the largest east of the Mississippi.” The plan was to basically burn the coal waste for energy. The Department of Environmental Protection expedited the permit in 2005 just as the Environmental Protection Agency was going to implement more stringent air quality regulations.
Here’s our Out d’ Coup podcast where we talk about Katie McGinty’s prior history with the natural gas and fossil fuels industries
Katie McGinty’s campaign manager Mike Mikus, who is now the campaign manager for McGinty’s Senate run, told the outlet that “she’s always sought to process permits quickly- whether they were denied or approved” and “There’s no reason it should languish for years. At the time, she felt [the plant] would be able to comply with EPA regulations.” But emails show that Katie McGinty was working quickly to have the permit processed the day before the EPA’s new regulations, which made Washington County a non-attainment zone, went into effect. DEP officials were also relaying messages between McGinty and Democratic Senator Barry Stout throughout the process. StateImpact wrote:
Earlier in January 2005, DEP’s Southwest Regional Director at the time, Kenneth Bowman, emailed McGinty to say he reached out state Sen. Barry Stout (D- Washington).
“I called Senator Stout at home, as you directed,” Bowman wrote to McGinty. “[He] was pleased with the Department’s efforts to move the permit review through so expeditiously. Stout asked to be informed immediately if there are any problems.”
Stout also benefited from thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the Bologna family, but claimed he permit expedited because it was an environmental liability sitting in his district for decades. The power plant was never built, and the McGinty campaign kept Bologna’s campaign donations even though they were confronted on the fact that one of Bologna’s companies were implicated in Pennsylvania’s largest “midnight dumping” schemes.
When confronted at a Democratic Gubernatorial debate, McGinty was asked about money influencing her campaign. She stated “anyone who knows my track record knows there’s no special interest that tells Katie McGinty what to do,” but problems still persist. The Bologna family has once again donated large sums of money – this time it’s smaller due to federal campaign contribution limits – and she was the only candidate to take a soft stance on the Marcellus Shale in the Senate primary. An email was sent to Katie McGinty’s campaign asking if her current campaign still holds the same stance on money influencing her relationships as she stated in a previous campaign and if so, then why the Bolonga family still attracted to her campaign.