This article originally provided by
The Logan Banner
September 1, 2006
Casey speaks against Blankenship
By MARTHA SPARKS, Society Editor
— In a marathon run of seven West Virginia cities in one day, the state
Democratic Committee chairman is spreading a new Democratic slogan — “Don, WV’s
Not For Sale!”
Armed with posters, questionnaires and bumper stickers, W.Va. Democratic
Executive Committee Chairman Nick Casey arrived at the Logan County Airport
Wednesday afternoon in a statewide Democratic effort at thwarting Massey Energy
leader Don Blankenship in his efforts to oust Democrats from the state
government with large monetary donations to Republican candidates.
Meeting with Casey to aid in spreading the word were several local members of
the United Mine Workers Coal Miner Political Action Committee (COMPAC), a few
concerned citizens and W.Va. Delegate Lidella Wilson-Hrutkay.
Ron Chambers, spokesperson for the COMPAC members, said they were there to aid
in making people aware of Don Blankenship.
“We’re trying to make people aware of Don Blankenship and his move to take over
the complete political system for his self,” Chambers said. “He’s trying to take
it over…monopolize it. He’s trying to determine who gets elected and who’s not.
We have a problem with it.”
Chambers admitted that he thought Don Blankenship, who reportedly gets $33
million a year as CEO of Massey Energy, has enough money to sway state voters to
vote his way.
“In the court justice he bought recently, it’s pretty evident. He bought that
seat for Benjamin,” Chambers said. “Money goes a long way. We have to offset
this someway. He said he was going to impact a lot of these races and what we’d
like to see is for him to get back into his coal business and get some safety
for his men instead of worrying about who the politicians are.”
Although a severe thunderstorm in Huntington delayed Casey from his appointed
time of 1:30 p.m., when his small plane landed an hour later, Casey wasted no
time in getting down to his business.
“You UMWA guys, thank you for coming,” Casey said as he mingled and shook hands
with the COMPAC members.
“Here’s what he (Don Blankenship) is doing to you…well, you know what he’s doing
to you,” Casey said. “But he has given 42 Republicans a thousand dollars. That’s
$42,000. That’s 42 Republicans running against good people like Lidella, who’s
standing right there behind us. Of those 42, only one guy — a guy out of Cabell
County — had the decency and nerve to give it back.
“Here’s what Don is doing. We think he is on a buying thing. We think, the
statements haven’t been filed yet, but we think three Republicans, Jeff Cook,
Elias Gregory and Rev. Bill Marcum will get a $1,000 from him. Now they’re
running against our good candidates.
“Now what Don is doing to good people like Lidella ... he sends out this
questionnaire. He’s doing the same deal about ‘For the Sake of the Kids.’ Don
Blankenship and For the Sake of the Kids. He’s trying to get people to think
that what he thinks about is the sake of kids.
“This questionnaire states ‘This is all about improving the state for the Sake
of the Kids.’ There’s a lot of questions, but here is a sampling: ‘Does a
Supreme Court Justice have the right to decide whether he should sit on a case?’
“’Should the media be permitted to use their assets to attack the reputation of
any of our local businesses to lower their value?’ That doesn’t have anything to
do with the sake of the kids. That’s for Massey.
“Then he asks, ‘Do you support abandoning the state senate and delegate
redistricting plan and making them all single member districts?’ Now, what’s
that got to do with the kids?
“Well, he has enough nerve to send us a questionnaire. Well, we’re sending all
those Republicans who got money from him a questionnaire we designed to find out
whether they are running to be elected by the people of West Virginia or if they
have already been put in his pocket. If they don’t answer the questionnaire, we
know how they stand. If they do answer the questionnaire, then we’re willing to
put out there that they are not with Don Blankenship. We’re not for them, but at
the same time we are trying to separate anybody who is running for office —
whether Republican or Democrat — from Blankenship. Because Blankenship is trying
to take over the legislature. He’s got millions of dollars and he will spend
what it takes.”
Some of the questions on the Democratic questionnaire include:
“In responding to criticism that he was using the plight of poor children in
West Virginia to advance his political objectives, in October of 2004, Don
Blankenship promised: ‘After the election... he will start a foundation also
called And for the Sake of the Kids to provide needed clothing and other
necessities to the most needy children of West Virginia. He said that he intends
to help the foundation raise an amount ‘similar’ to $1.7 million in the coming
“It’s been more than 746 days since Mr. Blankenship made that promise to poor
children across West Virginia and he has yet to fulfill that promise.
“Do you think Don Blankenship should quit playing politics with the plight of
needy children and do what he promised to do?
“Don Blankenship and Massey Energy want to build a coal silo within 300 feet of
a school - although it’s in violation of state and federal law. Just above the
school is ‘a sludge dam 400 feet high. It holds a lake full of coal waste,
chemicals and toxic metals, including mercury and arsenic ... Most parents did
not know that it was there until shown aerial photos.’
“Do you believe that Don Blankenship and Massey should be allowed to violate
federal and state laws and build a silo so close to an elementary school?
“How many mine deaths does it take?
“Just weeks after the deaths of miners in several accidents, Don Blankenship
spoke to the Berkeley County Republican Club. According to the Herald-Mail in
Hagerstown, Maryland, ‘Blankenship also reportedly said that the fire, at
Aracoma Coal’s Alma No. 1 Mine [a Massey subsidiary], and the January 2
explosion at International Coal Group’s Sago Mine ... were rare events and
statistically insignificant.” Republican Del. Bill Hamilton (R-Upshur) said,
“Shame on you Don Blankenship.’
“Do you believe Don Blankenship is correct when he says those deaths are
“According to the US Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration
mines operated by Massey Energy Company and it’s subsidiaries had a total of
1,998 injuries and 24 deaths from 1995-2006.
“In February, the Associated Press reported that Don Blankenship wrote a memo
“telling supervisors that ‘coal pays the bills’ . . . In the memo, dated Oct.
19, Blankenship tells the company’s deep mine superintendents that running coal
is the top priority in the mines. ‘If any of you have been asked by your group
presidents, your supervisors, engineers or anyone else to do anything other than
run coal (i.e. build overcasts, do construction jobs, or whatever) you need to
ignore them and run coal. This memo is necessary only because we seem not to
understand that the coal pays the bills,’ Blankenship wrote in the memo, the
Appalachian News-Express reported Friday.’
“The article said that the memo ‘is drawing fire from coal miners, who say the
company is putting profits before safety.’
“Do you believe that Don Blankenship was right when he put corporate profits
over the safety of his miners?
“Following the mining accidents earlier this year, the Mine Safety and Health
Administration (MSHA) released new federal emergency rescue rules to help miners
survive. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the mining industry
‘challenged the core provisions of the emergency safety rules.’ One of those
provisions was the installation of more and better-situated oxygen supplies. The
new air packs were the most expensive component of the emergency rules.
“The Charleston Gazette reported, ‘In a recent Securities and Exchange
Commission filing, Third Point stated, ‘For the year ended Dec. 31, 2005,
Massey’s CEO was paid $33.7 million, more than four times the average
compensation of $8.1 million for the competitors’ CEOs.’
“An MSHA official estimated that it would cost $10.5 million for every United
States mine to get the new packs. That is less than one-third what Blankenship
received in compensation last year.
“Do you believe that the MSHA emergency rules are too stringent and cost
Casey said he wants to make sure Blankenship doesn’t have any possible effects
on future elections.
“We want to eliminate Don Blankenship from the whole election process and get
rid of him,” Casey said. “But we also want him to know that he might have
millions, and that he makes in one day what most of us will ever make forever,
but…Don, WV’s is not for sale.”
With that, Casey and his associates handed out “Don, WV’s is not for sale”
In his Wednesday trip, Casey traveled to Wheeling, Huntington, Lewisburg,
Williamson, Bluefield and Logan. Last week Casey traveled to Martinsburg,
Clarksburg, Beckley and Charleston in his efforts to eliminate Don Blankenship
from the state election process.