(09/16/2005)
By Bob Weaver

Massey CEO Don Blankenship had been huddling with the Republican leadership of the state legislature saying he will spend up to $50,000 to defeat each Democrat candidate who opposes his agenda.

Blankenship has spent millions to defeat Democrats, including Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, buying direct mailers, TV and radio ads claiming McGraw was soft on a sex offender who was released from custody.

The state's Republicans have been more than happy to endore Blankenship's issues, more recently the reduction of the state's food tax.

Most Mingo County residents believe Blankenship is getting ready to run for public office.

Blankenship and Massey Coal, according to most national environmental groups, is one of the USAs greatest violaters of environmental laws. Judy Bonds of Coal River Mountain Watch has said Blankeship often spends more more defending the violations that it would have took to just comply to good practices.

The legislature, while dominated by registered Democrats, just approved $1 million dollars for Mingo County dirt track in which Blankenship has vested interests. Many of the Democrats have been label Republicrats, Republicans who registered with the Democrat party in order to get elected.

Blankenship, whose son in heavily into dirt racing, has pledged $1 million in matching money for the project. The coal company is also supplying the land, likely a mountaintop removal site that is slated for reclamation.

Blankenship, who has been chosing popular causes to support, just spent about $500,000 in an unsuccessful attempt to get legislators to repeal the state's 6 percent food tax.

GOP leaders want the tax repealed immediately. Democrats in charge of the House and Senate say the state can't afford that right now, and they favor a slower reduction.

Gov. Manchin is promising a gradual reduction.

Blankenship said the most pressing problem facing the Mountain State now is the need for government to treat businesses and workers better.

Massey has been a leader in out-sourcing work and promoting non-union labor, and more recently supported a lawsuit which woould overturn the state's right to impose severance tax on exported coal.

The suit is based on the USAs trade policy of not taxing exports, and would require the State of WV to repay millions of dollars to the coal companies.


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