Cartoon corporate villains don’t come more cartoonish than Don Blankenship, a former coal baron of West Virginia. Last week, Blankenship, the former chief executive officer of Massey Energy, was charged in a federal indictment for a variety of crimes in connection with a disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine in April, 2010, in which twenty-nine coal workers were killed. According to the forty-three-page indictment, Blankenship engaged in a lengthy pattern of deception in dealings with federal mine regulators, in an effort to cut costs, and, consequently, exposed his employees to appalling risks. (His lawyer, William Taylor III, told reporters that Blankenship was innocent and would fight the charges.)
The indictment came just a few days after the 2014 midterm elections, which the Democratic Party in West Virginia lost in a rout: Republicans won all three of the state’s seats in the House of Representatives, including a twelve-point Republican win over Nick Rahall, who had served in Congress for thirty-eight years. In the race to succeed Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat who had served for five terms, Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican congresswoman, won sixty-three per cent of the vote. Capito’s big issue in the race was coal. As her campaign Web site boasts, Capito “has been fighting in...
Thursday, November 20, 2014
What’s the Matter with West Virginia?
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