Over at the New Republic, Alec MacGillis reports on the extent to which Ohio coal baron Bob Murray pressures his mining employees to underwrite the campaigns of GOP candidates, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
A vocal proponent of the dubious "war on coal" mantra, the 72-year-old CEO of Murray Energy is one of Romney's biggest boosters in the must-win state of Ohio. Murray garnered national headlines in August after some of his miners lost pay in exchange for the opportunity to appear at a Romney campaign event. Attendance apparently wasn't optional.
But according to MacGillis, Murray's employees have been pressured to donate much more to Republican office seekers than just their time. Encouraged by management, Murray workers have ponied up more than $120,000 to help elect Romney. MacGillis writes:
The accounts of two sources who have worked in managerial positions at the firm, and a review of letters and memos to Murray employees, suggest that coercion may also explain Murray staffers’ financial support for Romney. Murray, it turns out, has for years pressured salaried employees to give to the Murray Energy political action committee (PAC) and to Republican candidates chosen by the company. Internal documents show that company officials track who is and is not giving. The sources say that those who do not give are at risk of being demoted or missing out on bonuses, claims Murray denies.
According to documents obtained by TNR, Murray reprimands employees who fail to donate to his chosen candidates, going so far as to disseminate spreadsheets showing how much or how little his different subsidiaries are giving.
Until his recent influence on national politics, Murray was perhaps best known for his role in the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster, in which six miners and three rescuers died at a Murray property in Utah in 2007. Murray blamed the tragedy on an earthquake; experts disagreed.
As HuffPost reported last year, Murray has enlisted disgraced former Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) in lobbying against tighter safety regulations at mining operations.