Mr. Blankenship offers no apology for his many contradictions and personal and business decisions, some of them previously undisclosed. Though he lives a baronial lifestyle thanks to a fortune built on coal scratched from West Virginia’s mountains, he says the size and origins of his wealth are no one’s business. He is the only candidate in either party in the Senate race who has not disclosed his personal finances as required by law to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. There isn’t “much of a penalty” for flouting the law, he explained in an interview, justifying his refusal.
“I don’t personally think anybody should have to disclose private information,” he said while awaiting the start of a “meet the candidates” event last week in Cabin Creek, W.Va….
In a highly unusual move, a super PAC linked to Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky senator and Republican leader, began saturating the West Virginia airwaves last week with an ad attacking Mr. Blankenship for poisoning local drinking water from his former coal mines. The nearly $745,000 campaign of TV and digital ads is meant to boost the chances of two conventional Republicans in the race, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Representative Evan Jenkins. A Fox News poll conducted last week found a fluid race, with Mr. Blankenship trailing his rivals but about one in four voters undecided.
On Monday, responding to the attack ads, Mr. Blankenship brought up Mr. McConnell’s marriage to Elaine Chao, the secretary of transportation, and questioned whether the majority leader faced a conflict of interest in foreign relations. Ms. Chao’s father is “a wealthy Chinaperson,” Mr. Blankenship said, speaking on a West Virginia radio show, adding, “And there’s a lot of connections to some of the brass, if you will, in China.”
“I read in books that people think he’s soft on China,” he said of Mr. McConnell.