October 23, 2006
WEST VIRGINIA: STATE OR COMMODITY?
Caption: Is West Virginia for sale? We'll find out soon.
The big story in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia these days is the effort of Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to buy the state legislature (although why anyone would want it is a legitimate question).
He's using millions of his own money to pay for mailings, TV ads, campaign signs, campaign workers, etc. to defeat candidates, mostly incumbents, who have not been sufficiently pliable.
He has also given money to religious right groups which have produced their own TV ad and candidate report cards trying to summon the faithful to holy war over issues like same sex marriage (which is already illegal here).
In 2004, he spent millions of dollars to defeat pro-labor Justice Warren McGraw and elect Brent Benjamin, who was previously politically unknown.
Blankenship is the highest paid CEO of any coal company, last year reportedly receiving around $34 million in compensation, about four times more than the going rate in the industry. This is kind of odd since his company isn't performing very well these days for stockholders.
At any rate, this is what New York Times reporter Ian Urbina had to say about it this Sunday.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED
by El Cabrero