Jul 6, 2019

Coal tycoon Chris Cline leaves legacy of conservative support, loyalty

Chris Cline, referred to by some as the last coal tycoon, spent some of the billions he made to support the Republican Party and Donald Trump’s election campaign, along with his alma mater, Marshall University.

Catch up quick: Cline, 60, was among 7 who died on Thursday when a helicopter crashed due to unknown causes on its way from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., AP reports. Forbes estimated the West Virginia entrepreneur's net worth at $1.8 billion after he took his company, St. Louis-based Foresight Energy, public in 2014.

Why it matters: Per the LA Times: "Cline was no stranger to politics." He contributed $1 million to President Trump’s inaugural committee and $200,000 to the Trump Victory PAC, per FEC records. Throughout his campaign and since taking office, Trump has made helping the coal industry a signature goal. In his 2018 State of the Union address, he told the crowd he had "ended the war on American energy — and ... ended the war on beautiful, clean coal." ABC News reports.

The backdrop:

  • Before donating to Trump, Cline gave $1 million to a super PAC in support of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign in 2015.
  • Open Secrets revealed that Cline also gave thousands of dollars to conservative organizations and Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
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