Some good news central to our campaign for corporate accountability, the CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship, is resigning. This is another victory for Prosperity Agenda and the coalition of organizations we work with.
Last April, after the accident that killed 29 miners in West Virginia, we were the first organization to urge the U.S. Department of Justice to prosecute Blankenship and other Massey Coal executives for their gross negligence that led to the deaths. In the letter that I signed on behalf of a coalition we reviewed the long history of mine safety violations and abuse and told Attorney General Holder “that absent a criminal investigation, Mr. Blankenship will continue his criminal conduct and more people will be killed.”
As I wrote in a column, published widely on the Internet:
“Were it not for the deliberate actions of Don Blankenship and Massey Energy the deaths of 29 miners in West Virginia would not have occurred. These deaths were foreseeable, even predicted, and this is not the first time Massey has caused the deaths of miners.
This was not the first time Blankenship’s company had killed miners for profit. Massey Energy had been fined millions of dollars for violations of mine safety and had already settled one case where miners were killed with criminal and civil fines totaling more than $4 million—the largest fine ever in coal history. As I result we urged that it was time to stop coddling corporate criminals like Blankenship and hold them accountable for their actions.
The article got the attention of Massey Energy officials and one of the publications that published my article received a letter from a high powered DC lawyer, the same lawyer that represented Karl Rove when he was being investigated in the Valerie Plame case, and threatened them. I’m pleased to report that no publication pulled the article in the face of their threats.
We continued to keep the pressure on and other organizations joined in, a movement was developing. We joined with others and attended a large protest in Richmond at the annual board meeting of Massey Energy. See videos of the event here, here and here. We highlighted the growing movement for accountability and criminal prosecution and were rewarded when state and federal officials announced criminal and civil investigations. We reported on those investigations here.
And, now as the year draws to an end, we are pleased to report that Don Blankenship is resigning. The problems of Massey Energy are growing and the company may be sold or merge with another company. And, the criminal and civil probes are continuing.
The last few days have shown us that citizens can make a difference if they are organized and refuse to compromise. We saw the Deficit Commission recommendations go down to defeat last week and now we see Blankenship forced to resign. All these battles continue, but we are having an impact, we are making a difference.
I know times are tough, they are tough for us as well, but if you can make an end of the year contribution it would make a tremendous difference in allowing us to continue our work. To donate now, click here.
Whether you donate or not, thank you for caring about the direction of the country and joining in our actions. Your participation is really appreciated.
Take action: Deficit Commission Defeated, Now Tell Congress Do The Right Thing