Our old friend Robert Murray — the coal company CEO who made his miners go to a Romney rally and appear in a Romney ad instead of working for pay and who makes his managers donate to his political action fund — is in the news again. This time, it’s because people are suggesting that maybe it is not legal for Robert Murray to force his workers to be in political ads or to donate to his PAC.
The Ohio Democratic Party has requested a criminal investigation of the Ohio-based Murray Energy, after the coal company allegedly told employees to donate to Republican politicians including Mitt Romney.
The alleged coercion of political donations from employees may have “involved extortion, money laundering, racketeering, and other violations of Title 18 of the US criminal code,” Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach on Monday.
Meanwhile, the nonprofit organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, again citing The New Republic‘s report.
The complaint alleges Mr. Murray threatened employees with reprisals, including the loss of their jobs, to coerce them to make contributions to the company’s PAC.
Mr. Murray is a prominent Republican donor and, in August, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney used Mr. Murray’s Century Mine in Ohio as a backdrop while he attacked President Barack Obama as anti-coal. Coal-smudged miners who worked for Mr. Murray were forced to take time off from work without pay to stand behind Mr. Romney. Mr. Murray has also held fundraisers for Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA), Jim DeMint (R-SC), David Vitter (R-LA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Bob Corker (R-TN), among others. …
The complaint also alleges that the company reimbursed employees for contributions to the PAC by giving them monthly bonuses personally approved by Mr. Murray. Campaign finance law prohibits corporate PACs from using coercion to extort contributions from company employees and prohibits companies from using corporate funds to reimburse employees for contributions to a company PAC.
We feel entirely confident that the powers that be will quickly swoop in to fairly assess any potential wrongdoing and hold this politically connected individual to account, particularly under a Romney administration. He, like the bankers at the heart of the financial crisis, will be held accountable for any malfeasance, and quickly change his behavior.
And then coal will be clean and climate change will be stopped and I will buy a unicorn on sale at Big Lots.
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