With federal conspiracy charges against former Massey Energy executive David Craig Hughart around the death of 29 miners in the 2010 West Virginia mine disaster — and with Hughart cooperating with prosecutors — many are wondering if former Massey CEO Don Blankenship is the ultimate target the feds are after, or about to get.
Nevertheless, as The Courier-Journal’s Tom Loftus just reported, that didn’t stop the Kentucky Democratic Party from taking a $10,000 check from Blankenship last month:
Don Blankenship, one of the most controversial figures in coal mining, contributed $10,000 to the Kentucky Democratic Party on Nov. 5, according to a report the party filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.
Blankenship, former boss of A.T. Massey Coal, came under fire after 29 miners died in an April 2010 explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia — the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years. Eight months later he resigned from Massey.
While the receipt of such money from the likes of Blankenship may be nauseating, at this point it’s certainly not surprising.
Blankenship registered a new coal company in Kentucky almost a year ago today, six months after he gave the maximum donation to Gov. Steve Beshear’s re-election campaign. Last Spring, Blankenship was part of Beshear’s “Derby Day entourage.”
We’ve been hearing murmurs from people close to the coal industry that Blankenship is planning to make a full return to mining in the near future, right here in Kentucky, despite his own denials. Without any evidence to back up their additional claims — let me emphasize that — I’ve been told that Beshear and top-Beshear donor and coal operator Jim Booth have been in communication with Blankenship on his endeavor. Linda Potter with the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources tells LEO that neither Blankenship nor his company McCoy Coal have applied for a mining permit, and both the governor’s office and the Energy and Environment Cabinet tell LEO that they are unaware of any communication with Blankenship.
But the presence of a $10,000 check from Blankenship to the KDP the day after the election, and just before the feds tightened their grip on a former Massey official, shouldn’t exactly extinguish those rumors.
Though all of that blood money sure will replenish those KDP coffers, that’s for sure.