10/09/2012 09:48 am ET

Murray Energy's Alleged Pro-Romney Coercion Should Be Investigated: Ohio Democratic Party

The Ohio Democratic Party has requested a criminal investigation of the Ohio-based Murray Energy, after the coal company allegedly told employees to donate to Republican politicians including Mitt Romney.

The alleged coercion of political donations from employees may have "involved extortion, money laundering, racketeering, and other violations of Title 18 of the US criminal code," Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach on Monday.

Last Thursday, The New Republic's Alec MacGillis reported that Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray pressured his employees to donate to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, among others, as well as to Murray Energy's pro-Republican political action committee. Some of the firm's 3,000 employees reportedly feared they might lose their jobs if they did not make these political donations.

Before that, in August, Murray reportedly forced coal miners at the Century Mine in Beallsville, Ohio, to give up a day's worth of pay to show up at a rally with Romney, according to the local news radio station WWVA. Then, too, some workers feared not attending could cost them their jobs.

Murray, a climate-change denier, has a history of making questionable claims. In 2010, for one, he wrote a letter to employees in which he said that, if workers did not donate to Murray Energy's PAC, "the coal industry will be eliminated and so will your job."

Murray is not the only pro-Romney CEO pressuring his employees to support Romney. Richard Lacks, CEO of the Michigan-based Lacks Enterprises, a car-part manufacturer, also urged his 2,300 employees to vote for Romney in a recent letter.

(Hat tip: The Raw Story.)