Put This Coal Kingpin in the Stocks

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

Disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship didn’t get what he deserves in his recent federal trial. But he richly deserves what he got.

Guilty,” declared all 12 West Virginia jurors, who convicted this arrogant and avaricious former CEO of Massey Energy of willfully conspiring to violate America’s mine safety laws. As a result of that conspiracy, 29 miners were essentially murdered by the corporation in a horrific explosion deep inside Massey’s Upper Big Branch coal mine back in 2010.

Blankenship — a multimillionaire right-wing ideologue, union-buster, and political heavyweight — ran the doomed mine as a lawless operation. This kingpin of King Coal relentlessly put profit over people, recklessly endangering miners. He made Upper Big Branch one of the most dangerous workplaces in the country.

But coal is indeed king in West Virginia, where the royals can count on being coddled. Thus, Blankenship faces a maximum of just one year in prison. And his diamond-studded legal team intends to have the jury’s unanimous verdict tossed down the dark shaft of judicial favoritism for the rich.

What the mining baron deserved was to be put in stocks and subjected to a steady stream of derision from the families of mineworkers who were hurt, sickened, and even killed to haul up coal so Blankenship could live in luxury.

He escaped that justice, but he’ll never shake off the guilty judgment of the jurors. The month-long, widely covered trial fully documented the rank immorality of this man and his ill-gotten fortune.

Blankenship undoubtedly thinks he got away with murder. But in the court of public opinion, he’s turned his name into a four-letter word.


This has been reposted from the Campaign for America's Future.


Cartoon by Khalil Bendib.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.