Don Blankenship To Release Additional Secret MSHA Emails at Beckley Town Hall Meeting
Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy Company and candidate for U.S. Senate, announced today that during a presentation at his Beckley town hall meeting on Thursday, he will reveal some previously undisclosed Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) emails.
The emails will be from among those that the federal prosecutors withheld from Mr. Blankenship's defense attorneys in violation of what is known as Brady material disclosure rules. The Don Blankenship for U.S. Senate town hall meeting will be held at the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center at 6 pm. on Thursday, January 25th. Reception will begin at 5:30.
The emails which were improperly withheld for more than two years support several important matters.
First, they will show that MSHA inspectors did not know that coal miners informing one another of the arrival of MSHA mine inspectors at the mine was a violation of the law. Despite this, the jurors in Don’s trial were told by federal prosecutors that Don’s failure to prevent miners from sharing with each other that inspectors had arrived was a federal crime.
Second, the emails will show that MSHA knew and investigated prior gas inundations at the Upper Big Branch (UBB) Mine. This means MSHA knew that gas inundations were a risk to the UBB miners before MSHA officials required the airflow to be reduced by half. Reducing airflow increases the risk of a mine explosion.
Third, they will show that Kevin Stricklin, MSHA Chief Coal Administrator, ‘intimidated’ investigation team members who did not agree with his narrative.
Blankenship went on to say that given that UBB was a Raleigh County mine and that an MSHA email says MSHA had a “shredding party” at Beckley the town hall at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center is an appropriate location for these emails to be made public.
Blankenship also plans to show a short video which features the UBB maintenance foreman who was on duty the shift before the UBB tragedy.
Blankenship emphasized that the primary purpose of the town halls has not changed. It is to speak directly to voters about his dream for a better life for West Virginians and to hear the views of voters directly.
Blankenship reiterated that his campaign is about West Virginians having a better life and that Southern West Virginia’s Third Congressional District ranks 431st out of 436 U.S. Congressional Districts in economic opportunity. The meeting will focus on why that is and how to fix it.