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Coverage of Virginia politics and the 2014 election.

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Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates

Several weeks ago, House Speaker Bill Howell formed a new political action committee specifically to help out Republican House incumbents who’d voted for his transportation reform bill and faced primary challenges as a result.

Campaign finance data posted online at the Virginia Public Access Project shows that Howell’s Commonwealth Transportation PAC has made $31,707 in cash or in-kind contributions.

He has give $10,000 to Del. Joe May of Loudoun, who’s in a high-profile primary against challenger David LaRock. Another $10,000 has gone to Del. Tag Greason. Greason doesn’t have a primary opponent, but he does have a Democratic opponent for November’s election. That’s also the case with Del. David Yancey, who received $5,000 from the PAC.

Del. Bobby Orrock, R-Caroline, and Del. Beverly Sherwood, R-Winchester, are both being challenged in Tuesday’s primary over their votes for the transportation bill. They didn’t receive cash donations from Howell’s transportation PAC — at least, not through the end of May — but both received in-kind contributions. Sherwood received help with voter contact calls worth $3,494. Orrock got the same help, worth $1,151. And Howell’s PAC gave $2,061 worth of voter calls to his own delegate campaign. Howell has a primary opponent himself, Craig Ennis, who has said the transportation bill is one of the reasons he wants to defeat Howell.

In an interview when he set up the PAC, Howell said he created a specific PAC to entice donations from people whose interest was primarily the transportation bill, and who might otherwise not be comfortable donating to his other, more general PAC fund.