Unlike the CEOs of most giant corporations, Don Blankenship’s outward appearance actually reveals what’s inside: An arrogant, conniving, cutthroat industrial thug.
Not for nothing was this thickset, mean-eyed West Virginian known as “the dark lord of coal country.” The longtime boss of mining behemoth Massey Energy generated profits by working miners to exhaustion, viciously busting unions, browbeating subordinates, running disgracefully-unsafe mines, callously decapitating mountains as a cheap way to get at coal, willfully poisoning the region’s waterways and people with toxic mining waste, and outright purchasing politicians to run errands for him. He measured the value of everything and everyone in dollars.
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By that measure, Blankenship has always put the dearest value on himself, taking $18 million in personal pay in 2010 alone – the same year his disregard for safety ripped apart 29 miners down in Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine. He gets chauffeured around in a Bentley and a helicopter; he vacations on the French Riviera; and his “primary mansion” is a vast, gated estate. But he also enjoys his nearby “entertainment home” a four-story castle pretentiously perched on a mountain peak so all the serfs can see that he is lord of the realm.
But Lord Don has taken a great fall – ousted as CEO in 2010 and recently convicted of a conspiracy that led to the needless deaths of those 29 miners. He’s also widely despised because, as one local put it, “he betrayed his own people.” Of course, he’s so narcissistic and materialistic that he says: “I don’t care what people think. At the end of the day, Don Blankenship is going to die with more money than he needs.”
Or deserves. But if anyone ever deserved to die with nothing but a sack of cold cash to comfort him, this greedy industrialist is that person.
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