Remember Mr. Murray, the coal mine owner who made his workers lose pay to stand with Mitt Romney at a rally in Ohio? CREW has filed a complaint with the FEC and Ohio Democrats separately filed a letter with allegations of “extortion, money laundering, racketeering” against Murray Energy Corporation, the Murray Energy Corporation PAC, and the company’s Chairman, President, and CEO Robert E. Murray.
When a distraught Mr. Murray contacted the Romney campaign, he says he was told not to worry about it because ‘We get a lot of charges, this will go away.”
These are not words the Romney campaign would want publicized.
The CREW complaint alleges that Mr. Murray of Murray Energy Corporation threatened employees with reprisals, including the loss of their jobs, to coerce them to make contributions to the company’s PAC.
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, “It is outrageous for a business owner to abuse his power to force his employees to support a political candidate. Whether coercing company executives to make campaign contributions or insisting coal miners take time off without pay so that a candidate can stage pretty pictures — it is all illegal.”
Furthermore, “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.”
These are serious allegations of campaign finance fraud, a federal crime. This is the very definition of racketeering and money laundering. Tom DeLay got convicted for engaging in similar activities.
Mr. Murray apparently likes to pressure his employees to vote and contribute to Republicans. Two of his employees told The New Republic in an article published on October 4th that they felt “coerced” by Mr. Murray. He sends emails inviting them to expensive several thousand dollar fund-raising dinners and invites them to automatically contribute to his PAC via their paychecks. When they don’t show up, interoffice memos show that Mr. Murray keeps tabs on them, asking why they can’t give 3 hours.
In spite of the fact that coal jobs are at a 15 year high, Mr. Murray warns his employees that an Obama win means no jobs for them. What Mr. Murray really means is that an Obama win means he will have to live up to safety regulations that would benefit his employees and the surrounding community.
The Romney campaign has been making a big show of Mitt’s alleged concern over the middle class workers of America, but he’s mum on the abuse heaped upon Mr. Murray’s employees. Not only was Romney aware that he used those unpaid employees in an ad for why he’s the better choice for coal jobs, but his campaign is aware that serious allegations have been made against Mr. Murray for threatening his employees with their jobs if they didn’t contribute to Republican candidates. If that isn’t enough to make Romney do the right thing, allegations that Murray is reimbursing employees who donate via “bonuses” should be an alarm bell that a wise candidate would distance himself from.
Instead, the Romney campaign tells Mr. Murray, “They said, ‘We get a lot of charges, this will go away.'” According to the Romney campaign, they get a lot of charges of racketeering, extortion and money laundering but they all go away. In this case, there are internal memos and documents that substantiate the employees claims against Mr. Murray. If indeed somehow this “goes away”, it won’t speak well of our justice system or of the Romney campaign, which hasn’t yet said that they will stop accepting donations from Murray’s PAC.
According to the Post Gazette, Mr. Murray sees himself as “Appalachia’s version of the deep-pocketed Koch brothers.”
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.