- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Republican Senate President Bill Cole is drawing Democratic scrutiny for bringing ex-Texas Gov. Rick Perry to West Virginia for a gubernatorial fundraiser during the budget session.

Before Tuesday’s fundraiser, Cole said he already rescheduled Perry’s planned visit last week amid the session.

Cole said it was planned before he knew about the session. Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin called the GOP-led Legislature into session May 16. He announced it a week earlier.

Without a budget, July 1 triggers a government shutdown. A $270 million gap remains. House lawmakers killed tobacco tax increases passed by the Senate.

Billionaire Democratic candidate and coal operator Jim Justice said Cole should use fundraiser checks to cover running special session costs, currently $385,000.

Cole’s campaign said Justice shouldn’t run TV ads until he pays millions in overdue mine safety fees and property taxes.

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