Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's campaign released a copy of an arrest warrant Friday detailing a plot by a Florida man to extort $50,000 by releasing some allegedly damaging information to Bill Maloney's campaign and to medai outlets.
The Associated Press provides a explanation about what happened.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal criminal charge alleges a Florida man attempted to extort $50,000 by threatening to smear acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in West Virginia's upcoming special election for governor.
The FBI arrested Harry Marshall Rae on Thursday in California, from where they allege he sent threatening emails both to the governor's official website and to a Wheeling greyhound breeder who is cooperating with investigators.
Rae vows in these emails, filed in his U.S. District Court case, to release potentially damaging information to the campaign of Tomblin's Republican opponent, Bill Maloney, unless the breeder — a Tomblin supporter — and others in the industry paid him.
"To make this go away for you and all your buddies up in W.V, I'd like a contribution of $50,000 made out to a Boy Scout troop of my choosing," Rae allegedly wrote in a Sept. 16 email.
The information involved a video allegedly showing inhumane practices at an Oklahoma greyhound kennel. Maloney has attacked Tomblin over his mother's West Virginia greyhound business. Rae suggested in the emails that the video could torpedo Tomblin's candidacy by casting the greyhound industry in a bad light.
"This can and might be all over (TV) ... way before the election, and if you want to get a lawyer and get me for (extortion), that's OK... I get a public forum in court to show videos," the Sept. 16 email said.
Rae wrote in another email that "I've got several request for videos from Maloney chief of staff." An email sent later that evening alleged a Maloney representative was flying to see him Sept. 24.
"I'll stall him and send him away, if I have major part of deposit," that email said. "They think these 'assets' will win election for them."
Apparently referring to the Maloney campaign, Rae wrote in a Sept. 22 email that "the other party IS offering $100,000 for the videos that pertain to (West Virginia), plus a (consulting) job for 2 years...if they win."
Maloney spokeswoman Michelle Yi said nobody from the campaign has had any contact with the individuals named in the case, first reported by The Times Leader in Martins Ferry, Ohio. Tomblin's campaign called on Maloney to release any relevant emails, phone records or other information.
Citing the emails filed in the case, Tomblin spokesman Chris Stadelman alleged that they showed the Maloney campaign was pursuing "videos that have nothing to do with Earl Ray Tomblin yet would be used to continue the false smears on him and his family on the eve of the gubernatorial election. "
Rae's federal public defender in Fresno declined comment Friday. Rae remains in custody there pending a detention hearing Oct. 4, the day of West Virginia's special election.
The FBI recorded two phone calls between Rae and the Wheeling breeder, according to a Monday sworn statement from FBI Agent Hugh Mallet requesting the arrest warrant. During one of these calls, the two arranged to meet Sept. 27 in Sunnyvale, Calif., to exchange the money, the FBI affidavit said.
The filed emails identify the Wheeling breeder as Dean Miner. He did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Other emails filed in the case show Rae was also in contact with GREY2K USA, a greyhound advocacy group whose executive director has endorsed Maloney. That official, Carey Theil, said in a Friday statement that Rae "claimed to have specific information regarding cruelty in the dog racing industry."
"GREY2K USA had no knowledge whatsoever of Mr. Rae's alleged plot," the statement said. "We are outraged by Mr. Rae's alleged actions, and if the allegations are true he should be held accountable."
The campaign attacks on Tomblin have centered on a state greyhound breeding promotion fund, which supplements racing purses for in-state breeders. Maloney has said he'll scuttle the fund if elected. To press for his money, Rae suggested that a Tomblin defeat would ruin West Virginia's industry, according to the emails.
Once the Maloney campaign obtained the video, one email said, the industry would end up "racing for peanuts."