Donor profile: Joe Craft

Quick stats on the biggest financial backers of Election 2012

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Ranking: 21

Total contributions to super PACs: $4.4 million*

  • $3.4 million to American Crossroads (pro-Republican), including $850,000 from his company, Alliance Management Holdings
  • $1 million to Restore Our Future (pro-Mitt Romney)

Federal hard money contributions:

Not including his super PAC contributions, Craft, along with his ex-wife, Kathy, has donated more than $800,000 to federal candidates, party committees, business PACs and other political committees since the 1998 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, including:

  • $170,700 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee
  • $79,500 to the Republican Party of Kentucky
  • $71,600 to the National Republican Congressional Committee
  • $59,500 to the National Mining Association PAC
  • $57,000 to the Democratic National Committee
  • $50,000 to the Democratic Party of Kentucky
  • $50,000 to Alliance Resource Partners’ corporate PAC
  • $31,950 to the Republican National Committee

Corporate names: Alliance Holdings GP, L.P.; Alliance Resource Partners, L.P.; Alliance Resource GP, LLC; Alliance Management Holdings; Alliance Management Holdings III LLC; MAPCO Coal Inc.

Total spent on federal lobbying (2007-2012): No record of corporate spending at the federal level, but the company has lobbied in the states and is a member of trade organizations that lobby.

Lobbying issues: N/A

Biography:

Wealthy coal executive Joseph W. Craft III was one of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s finance co-chairmen in Kentucky, Craft’s home state.

Craft’s Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. operates 11 mining complexes in five states — Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Maryland. The company also operates a coal-loading terminal on the Ohio River in Indiana.

In 2011, it produced more than 30 million tons of coal, ranking it the third largest coal producer in the eastern United States. Its revenues exceeded $1.8 billion, up 14.5 percent from 2010, a year that saw two miners die after a roof collapsed in one of the company’s Kentucky mines. (The Associated Press noted at the time that the mine had been cited for 840 safety violations since January 2009.)

Craft, who has expressed doubts about whether humans are causing climate change, is also a board member of the National Mining Association, a director of the Tulsa-based BOK Financial Corp., a director of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and a former chairman of the National Coal Council.

In a 2010 documentary, Craft said the future of the coal industry depends on “what happens in elections,” adding that the only thing that impedes the industry’s growth was “bad public policy.”

Craft, who resides in Tulsa, Okla., got his start in the coal business with a company called MAPCO Coal Inc., which was the predecessor of Alliance Resource Partners, L.P.

At MAPCO, Craft rose through the ranks serving in roles including general counsel, chief financial officer and, ultimately, president. Since August 1999, he has been the president, chief executive officer and a director of ARLP.

ARLP’s structure is unusual. It is what’s known as a publicly traded “master limited partnership,” and consists of several interlocking corporate entities.

Records show that Craft owns 43 percent of ARLP, as well as 72 percent of Alliance Holdings GP, L.P., the limited partnership formed to own and control Alliance Resource Management GP, LLC, which is the managing general partner of ARLP.

In March, Forbes estimated Craft’s net worth to be $1.4 billion, including the assets of his ex-wife, Kathy. They divorced in late 2011.

Over the years, Craft has been a prolific political and philanthropic donor, particularly to his alma mater, the University of Kentucky.

“I’ve been fortunate to have been able to have the ability to give,” Craft said in an interview with Kentucky’s PBS affiliate that aired in 2010. “I want the state of Kentucky to be the best it can be. I want America to be the best it can be.”

Last updated: Jan. 30, 2013

*2011-2012 election cycle. Source: Center for Responsive Politics and Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records. Totals include contributions from individuals, family members and corporations that are controlled by the individual super donor.