Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) played a role in directing millions of dollars in funds to groups associated with his wife, according to a new report.
An analysis published on Friday does not contain any allegations of wrongdoing, but its findings underscore how lawmakers’ personal interests may benefit as they seek federal money for projects in their home states.
Among the examples listed by Fox Business is a $1 billion commitment over five years to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law championed by Manchin and signed into law by President Joe Biden in November 2021.
Months earlier, the White House appointed the senator’s wife, Gayle Manchin, to be co-chairwoman of the federal-state partnership. She said in May 2021 that the money would help ARC “more adequately meet the overwhelming needs of communities impacted by job losses resulting from the decline in the coal industry. These grants will be instrumental to the long-term diversification and economic growth in Appalachia.”
Sen. Manchin also supported the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, signed by Biden in December, that included $200 million in funding for the commission in 2023, which represented a $5 million increase from spending in the previous year.
The new analysis covers other loans and grants to projects tied to Gayle Manchin, including $39.6 million secured in 2018 by Bethany College, a West Virginia institution where she served as a trustee from 2012 to 2021. The report said the money came from the Rural Development program under the Agriculture Department. That federal program received access to billions of dollars in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 that Sen. Manchin played a major role in negotiating.
“The college worked tirelessly with USDA staff for several years to complete the rigorous application process and provide the department with all the information it required to evaluate the college’s eligibility,” Bethany College stressed in a statement.
As one of 30 members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Manchin helps to draft legislation allocating funds from the federal government. Manchin’s office told Fox Business that the senator uses his position on the panel to “fight for” West Virginia causes.
“The loans and grants specially outlined in this article were all announced with bipartisan support from both state and federal legislators representing West Virginia,” the spokesperson added.