The sleaze, guilt, and punishment of Don Blankenship

Don Blankenship didn't get what he deserves in his federal trial, but he definitely deserves what he got.

Don Blankenship didn’t get what he deserves in his federal trial, but he definitely deserves what he got.

“Guilty,” declared all 12 West Virginia jurors who pondered the charge that this arrogant and avaricious CEO of Massey Energy Inc. willfully conspired to violate America’s mine safety laws. As a result of that conspiracy, 29 miners were essentially murdered by the corporation on April 5, 2010 in a horrific explosion deep inside Massey’s Upper Big Branch coal mine.

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Blankenship, a multimillionaire right-wing ideologue, union-buster, and political heavyweight, ran the UBB mine like a lawless third-world operator. It was one of the most dangerous workplaces in the country, because this kingpin of King Coal relentlessly put profit over people, recklessly endangering miners. But coal is, indeed, king in West Virginia, so the laws are written to coddle the royals of the industry. Thus, Blankenship’s guilt is to be punished by a maximum of one year in prison – and his diamond-studded legal team intends to have the jury’s unanimous verdict of guilt tossed down the dark shaft of judicial favoritism for the rich.

What the mining baron deserved was to be put in stocks on the state’s capitol grounds, where he would be subjected to a steady stream of derision from the families of mineworkers who were degraded, made ill, and even killed to haul up coal so Don could live in luxury. He escaped that justice, but he’ll never shake off the guilty judgment of the jurors – or of the American people who followed the month-long, widely-covered trial that fully documented the rank immorality of this man and his ill-gotten fortune.

He undoubtedly thinks he got away with murder, but in the Court of Public Opinion, his legacy is that he has turned the name Blankenship into a four-letter word.

“Blankenship guilty of conspiracy, not on other two counts,” www.wvgazettemail.com, December 3, 2015.

“The Fall of King Coal,” www.motherjones.com, November/December 2015.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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