POLITICS

Coal Baron Won't Get Charged For Allegedly Forcing Staff To Support GOP

Robert Murray and his company reportedly required staff to donate to Mitt Romney.
Robert Murray arrives for a news conference on the status of rescue efforts to save the six trapped coal miners in Hunti
Robert Murray arrives for a news conference on the status of rescue efforts to save the six trapped coal miners in Huntington, Utah, on Aug. 10, 2007. The coal baron has avoided charges after reports said he and his company coerced staff to support the Republican Party.

WASHINGTON -- Despite the fact that Federal Election Commission staff found "reason to believe" that coal baron Robert Murray and his company violated federal law by "coercing" employees to donate to and support Republican candidates, the FEC will not pursue charges.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on the April FEC decision, which was made public last week. The commission's three Republican members voted against pursuing charges, preventing a probe from moving forward.

During the 2012 election, Murray Energy workers in Beallsville, Ohio, said they were required to attend a rally for Mitt Romney. Other staffers later said they were pushed to donate to Romney as well, according to reporting in The New Republic.

Murray Energy is the largest coal mining company the country. Murray, its CEO, is a major Republican donor who also gave a tepid endorsement of Donald Trump at a coal conference on Monday, according to SNL Financial.

Murray reportedly said that Trump is" all we got" and would be "the horse to ride" this election.

Murray is currently suing the Environmental Protection Agency over rules limiting emissions from coal plants. He asked for a postponement of the trial so he could attend the Republican National Convention, for which he serves as a member of the host committee.

The FEC's General Counsel report states that the investigation found "reason to believe" that Murray and his company violated federal law by "coercing Murray Energy employees to make contributions to federal candidates and participate in fundraising activities supporting federal candidates."

The report also states "the presently available record suggests that Murray and Murray Energy solicited employees for contributions to individual candidates in a manner that further elevated the pressure to contribute, including the implicit threat that potential job-related reprisals may follow for not doing so."

The Democrats on the FEC rebutted the decision to not to move forward in a statement.

"This case of political coercion in the workplace reverberates beyond the realm U.S. elections," they wrote. "It goes to the very core of the relationship between employer and employee. Every citizen should feel free to give -- or not give -- to the candidates and political causes of their choice, inspired by their own convictions, and free from outside pressure or coercion. But despite the compelling available record in this matter, we were unable to garner the necessary four votes to open an investigation, which prevented the Commission from evaluating whether an employer violated this basic right."

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