Energy & Environment

Clinton slams convicted ex-coal chief

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Hillary Clinton is lambasting Don Blankenship after the former coal executive joined protesters at one of her West Virginia rallies.

{mosads}The Democratic presidential candidate used Blankenship, who will soon head to federal prison to serve one year for conspiracy, to call for better safety rules for miners.

“Let’s act on coal miner safety so people like Don Blankenship are held accountable for blatantly disregarding it,” she tweeted Tuesday.

Clinton was responding to a reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, who tweeted a photo of Blankenship among protesters — many of whom were coal miners — at a Monday rally in Williamson, W.Va. They were demonstrating against Clinton’s environmental policies, which she previously said would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

Talley Sergent, the West Virginia state director for Clinton’s campaign, said the former secretary of State is “proud” not to have an endorsement from Blankenship.

“It was a pretty outrageous … to see Don Blankenship, of all people, apparently rallying against Hillary Clinton’s plans and commitment to help our coal communities,” Sergent said in a statement, referring to Clinton’s $30 billion plan to help coal communities recover from the industry’s downturn.

“As president, Hillary Clinton will prioritize federal legislation to make sure the likes of Don Blankenship can never again get away with showing such blatant disregard for our miners and their safety,” Sergent said.

Blankenship, former head of Massey Energy Co., was convicted late last year of conspiring to violate mine safety laws in the run-up to the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which killed 29 miners. 

Blankenship is due to report to prison this month. The one-year sentence was the maximum allowable under the law, but Clinton said he should have received a much harsher punishment.

He used to be a heavy hitter in Republican politics, donating millions of dollars to GOP candidates and causes.

The Monday rally also saw Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) defend his endorsement of Clinton and a laid-off coal miner emotionally confront her over her coal comments.

Tags 2016 presidential election Coal Hillary Clinton Joe Manchin West Virginia
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