Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Men's Journal, the American Prospect, and TomDispatch.com, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndyKroll.

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Wall St.: Cutting Off Big Coal's Baddest?

| Thu Aug. 12, 2010 5:00 AM EDT

After nearly wrecking the global economy, pocketing trillion-dollar bailouts, and now profiting handsomely while the American economy sputters, it's hard to muster any praise at all for the titans of Wall Street. Some recent developments on the Street, though, do deserve plaudits, however tempered: Over the past two years, many of the world's biggest banks have limited or severed ties with one of the world's most environmentally destructive practices, mountaintop removal mining.

Concentrated in the Appalachian region, MTR mining involves blasting the peaks off mountains to expose the black veins of coal underneath. But the byproduct of MTR is tons of rubble and waste from the demolition that eventually quickly finds its way into nearby rivers, streams, and other water sources, severely contaminating them. As a result, local wildlife is killed off and nearby communities suffer prolonged health issues. And as scientist Margaret Palmer at the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science has testified (pdf), there's really no way to mitigate the effects of MTR. For years, the coal companies practicing MTR mining operated thanks to billions in loans from the world's biggest banks, who arranged funding deals to facilitate MTR projects.

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Quote of the Day: Jeff Greene, Ice Cream

| Wed Aug. 11, 2010 9:51 AM EDT

From Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fl.) directed at his Democratic opponent, Jeff Greene, in last night's US Senate primary debate:

"Your life is a question mark and every day we learn about your business dealings and how you treat your employees and how you come up with versions of why you went to Cuba and why you didn't go to Cuba. You have more versions of why you went to Cuba than Baskins Robbins has ice cream."

As this utterance suggests, last night's Meek-Greene debate was short on, well, debating, and looked more like Ali-Spinks (the first version, that is). Indeed, the entire Meek-Greene race has devolved into a big, bruising slugfest. One day Meek's campaign blasts out an email titled "One Investigative Story, One Editorial, And One Terrible Day for Jeff Greene" and the next Greene rips Meek for his ties to security contracting company Wackenhut. And 'round and 'round it goes.

That's not to say seamy ties and skeletons in the closet—or, in this case, Cadillacs of dubious origin and vomit-caked yachts—don't matter. They do, sort of. But when they consume an entire campaign, as last night's debate showed, leaving little oxygen in the room to address issues of social and economic policy, of fixing Florida's jobless crisis or housing debacle, then we have a problem. No wonder Americans are so pissed off at Congress and disillusioned by American politics.

Big-Money Bennet Handily Wins CO Primary

| Wed Aug. 11, 2010 7:54 AM EDT

Sen. Michael Bennet, the Obama administration-backed candidate in Tuesday's Colorado Democratic primary, glided to an easy victory over former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff, winning his party's US Senate nomination 54 percent to 45 percent with most precincts reporting. Despite staging a late comeback in the polls, and unleashing a barrage of attack ads revolving around past financial dealings of Bennet's, Romanoff, the more liberal candidate, never closed the cash gap—heading into the primary vote, Romanoff had raised only $1.96 million while Bennet had raised $7.7 million. It's that financial advantage, coupled with the Obama grassroots machine's support for Bennet, that likely helped the former Denver Public Schools chief come out on top.

Bennet will now defend his Senate seat against Republican Ken Buck, the district attorney for Colorado's Weld County, in the general election this fall. Buck defeated former lieutenant governor Jane Norton by a slim margin Tuesday, 51 percent to 48 percent.

According to Public Policy Polling, Tuesday's results in Colorado set up what could be a tight race for November, with Bennet edging out Buck 46-43 in a November projection. Complicating the picture, PPP found, is the sheer dislike of both candidates as voiced by voters. In August, 48 percent of voters said they didn't like Bennet, and 46 percent said they didn't like Buck. So while Bennet might have a small edge right now, the likely winner in November is anyone's guess.

From a campaign finance perspective, Bennet's victory on Tuesday marked a win for big, deep-pocketed donors over small contributors. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, only 10 percent of Bennet's donations came from people giving $200 or less; Romanoff, on the other hand, raised 62 percent of his funds from small donors. (These totals are through July 21, the last day covered by Colorado election reports.) The GOP's Ken Buck, meanwhile, saw 50 percent of his donations come from small voters. Now, with Bennet squaring off against Buck, we'll see whether the GOP's grassroots efforts can match the fundraising prowess of the well-connected, wealthy Bennet. 

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