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Dem running for West Virginia governor owes $15M in taxes, fines

Dem running for West Virginia governor owes $15M in taxes, fines
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Mining companies owned by the Democrat running to be West Virginia’s governor owe $15 million in state taxes and fines.

A Friday investigation by NPR found that Jim Justice, who owns Southern Coal Corp., numerous other coal companies and the landmark Greenbriar Resort, is also the nation’s top mine safety delinquent.

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Federal, state and local records reviewed by NPR show that the billionaire mogul owes tax or fines in six states, such as property taxes and coal taxes, along with federal income and unemployment taxes and mine safety penalties.

The largest share of his debts is in Kentucky, where his companies owe $6.81 million, mostly in county taxes, NPR’s analysis said.

Justice campaign spokesman Grant Herring declined to make him available for an interview with NPR.

But Billy Shelton, his attorney, responded specifically to the $2.6 million in federal mine safety penalties. He said Justice is taking appropriate steps to pay what he owes.

NPR’s investigation comes two years after a previous probe the radio network conducted into Justice’s businesses along with Mine Safety and Health News.

That investigation found the companies owed nearly $2 million in overdue mine safety fines.

Justice was asked about safety at his mines last year when he announced his gubernatorial run.

“I'm a safety fanatic,” he said at the time. “So I'm the last person in the world that's wanting something to where you would put an employee in a situation that would be unsafe.”

Justice has refused to support Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary and Chelsea Clinton to host series based on their book 'Gutsy Women' Democrats see spike in turnout among Asian American, Pacific Islander voters Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE for president, saying she is too opposed to coal.

He is running against Republican Bill Cole, president of West Virginia’s Senate.

poll last month conducted for the GOP found Justice with 44 percent support, compared to Cole’s 42 percent, within the margin of error.