The 5 Most Toxic Energy Companies and How They Control Our Politics
Continued from previous page
"If that lake happens to bust through its earthen barrier, it can just roll down a hillside and there's a distinct danger ... that the 240 children of the Marsh Fork Elementary School could be drowned," Shnayerson told "Living on Earth." In fact Massey had the exact same thing happen in Kentucky and the spill was roughly 30 times the magnitude of the Exxon Valdez spill, says Shnayerson.
So how does Massey do it? Unlike the big oil and gas companies, Massey has actually spend little on direct lobbying at the federal level, shelling out just $20,000 on lobbying in 2004 and little since then. Although, the company does have some overlap between government and industry. According to a 2010 report in the Washington Post, former Massey CEO Stanley C. Suboleski served on the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission during the George W. Bush administration only to return to Massey as a board member. In all, the Post found "nearly a dozen former MSHA district directors who recently took jobs as executives and consultants with Massey or Murray Energy" -- two companies with among the worst safety records in the industry.
An analysis done by the CRP before the 2010 midterm elections found that Massey has also been shuttling money to federal politicians.
In all, people associated with Massey Energy, along with the company's political action committee, have together contributed more than $307,000 to federal political candidates since the 1990 election cycle, the Center finds. Of that money, 91 percent went to Republican candidates.
People and PACs associated with Massey Energy have collectively donated five-figure sums to three federal-level candidates since the 1990 election cycle: failed 2008 Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gilmore of Virginia ($17,600), Senate Minority Leader and Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell ($13,550) and failed 1998 Democratic U.S. House candidate James MacCallum of West Virginia ($13,500).
In 2010 Massey gave $112,700 to federal candidates -- all of which went to Republicans. In fact, beginning in 2000, CRP found that donations to federal candidates from people or PACs affiliated with Massey have gone exclusively to Republicans.
According to Follow the Money, which tracks money in state politics, Massey Energy has given $344,200 in state elections from 2003 to 2010, and employees have added another $261,450 -- 99 percent of which has gone to Republicans, including climate denier Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli III.
And during the last decade CEO Don Blankenship himself has given $60,000 to Republicans and GOP-related organizations at the federal level. But the CEO is most notorious for tipping a state judicial election. After losing a $50 million lawsuit filed by Harman Mining which alleged that Massey forced the company out of business, Massey appealed. But not for four years. In the interim, Blankenship funneled $3 million to help elect Brent Benjamin to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Two years later Benjamin was the deciding vote on the appeals court that ruled in Massey's favor.
In December 2010, Blankenship grabbed his golden parachute and left Massey to a host of lawsuits, many relating to the 2010 disaster. About six months later, the company was acquired by Alpha Natural Resources for $7.1 billion. ANR has invested $174,449 so far in the 2012 election -- the second highest of any coal company in the country. Over 90 percent of its money has gone to Republicans. ANR spent $600,000 in lobbying during the 2010 election and it's shelled out nearly $400,000 so far this year.
Despite being housed under ANR, Massey is still kicking and it is unclear if the culture of greed will change. Considering its track record of environmental and human health abuses, critics are calling for the revocation of Massey's charter. How much, really, does a company have to do wrong in order for it to be shut down?