Coal producer Murray Energy fires back over Romney campaign issue

Ohio-based coal producer Murray Energy Corp., which recently hosted a Mitt Romney presidential campaign rally at an Ohio mine, said Sept. 25 that a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission about that event is “baseless.”

The Romney campaign stop, made to highlight the Republican accusation about an Obama Administration “War on Coal,” has become somewhat controversial because some of the miners at the Century longwall mine have complained they were forced to attend the event by the company. The company has said attendance was mandatory, but there were no penalties assessed for any miner that didn’t attend.

Murray Energy said in the Sept. 25 statement that it has become aware, through media articles, that ProgressOhio, a “radical leftist political advocacy group,” has filed a “baseless complaint” against it with the FEC. “Murray Energy has not yet been contacted by the FEC regarding the complaint, so any specifics of the allegations cannot be addressed,” it added. “It is readily apparent that the complaint is nonsensical and completely without any merit whatsoever. It is clearly an attempt by ProgressOhio to try to embarrass the Romney Campaign and to blunt and eliminate criticism of Mr. Obama’s War on Coal.”

This is an attempt to silence Murray Energy and its Chairman, President and CEO, Robert Murray, from speaking out against President Obama and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Murray Energy said. Brown, considered one of the more liberal Democratic senators, is facing a tough re-election battle this year.

ProgressOhio said in a Sept. 24 posting on its blog that it filed a Federal Election Commission complaint that day against Romney For President and Murray Energy over the use of Ohio coal miners by the Romney campaign. The complaint contends that the miners’ unpaid, mandatory attendance at an Aug. 14 Romney rally amounts to an illegal corporate contribution, particularly as video footage of the miners is now being used for campaign ads.

“It is clear from published reports by executives at Murray Energy that employees were mandated to attend the August 14 Romney rally after closing the mine,” said Brian Rothenberg, Executive Director of ProgressOhio.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.