House Minority Whip Mike Caputo said he’s disappointed Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was not found guilty on all counts, that the conviction of conspiracy to violate mine safety standards provides definite consequences for his actions.
“Nothing can be done to bring true solace to the families of the 29 miners who lost their lives at the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, but this jury decision sends the critical message that big companies and CEOs can no longer place profits ahead of all else,” said Caputo, who is also international vice president of United Mine Workers of America District 31. “I hope that fact will comfort those miners’ loved ones.
“In all honesty, I believe Don Blankenship should have been charged with murder for sacrificing the lives of those sons, fathers and brothers.”
Caputo said he appreciates the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which has spent years building the case against Blankenship for conspiring to violate mine safety standards, interfere with government inspections and lie to federal regulators and investors.
“By winning a conviction on the conspiracy charge, the prosecutors proved that such a willful violation of safety and other regulations in order to increase coal production is a criminal act,” Caputo said. “In a year in which we’ve witnessed the new legislative leadership push through legislation to roll back mine safety standards to help coal companies increase profit, it is a relief to know that our U.S. Attorney’s Office and these thoughtful jurors still value the importance of mine safety regulations. This verdict puts all coal operators out there today on notice: They are not above the law.
“I am thankful to the members of the jury for spending these weeks considering this important case, which I hope will lead to other successful efforts to hold these corporations and their CEOs accountable for disregarding the safety and rights of workers in the name of profit.”