Earlier this year, the supreme court ruled in the “Citizens United” case that corporations can spend unlimited funds on candidate elections.
The coal industry is getting set to take advantage.
The Lexington Herald-Leader obtained a letter sent by Roger Nicholson, senior vice president International Coal Group to other coal companies proposing they pool their resources in some key election races. He writes:
“With the recent Supreme Court ruling, we are in a position to be able to take corporate positions that were not previously available in allowing our voices to be heard … a number of coal industry representatives recently have been considering developing a 527 entity with the purpose of attempting to defeat anti-coal incumbents in select races, as well as elect pro-coal candidates running for certain open seats.”
International Coal Group wants to target Democratic U.S. Reps. Ben Chandler of Kentucky and Nick Rahall of West Virginia, and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky. While all of these politicians consider themselves “pro-coal”, they are facing challenges from some real coal-industry lapdogs.
For example Jack Conway is running against Tea Party darling Rand Paul who last week declared his love for mountaintop removal mining with this soundbite: “We’re not talking about Mount Everest. We’re talking about these little knobby hills that are everywhere out here.”
Nick Rahall is facing a challenge from ‘Spike’ Maynard. If that name sounds familiar, then you may remember that Maynard came under intense criticism for casting the deciding vote in favor of setting aside a $76 million judgment against Massey Energy Company when it later emerged that Maynard was close friends with Massey’s CEO, Don Blankenship, and has vacationed in the French Rivera with him.
International Coal Group is the 5th biggest producer of MTR coal, mining more than 4.5 million tonnes in Appalachia in 2009. Like Massey, they have come under scrutiny for a poor safety record, 12 miners were killed in disaster at ICG’s Sago mine in 2006.