July 28, 2014
Don Blankenship receives a shoe shine at the Mandalay Bay hotel.
Don Blankenship receives a shoe shine at the Mandalay Bay hotel.

Disgraced Coal Baron Don Blankenship Rebrands As A Libertarian Activist

Among visitors to Freedom Fest, a libertarian convention in Las Vegas, you might miss the aging Don Blankenship amid other middle aged attendees and a swarm of college students in three piece suits. Blankenship, wearing a bowling shirt and tan slacks, moves from panel to panel carrying a tote bag filled with free schwag — of which there was a lot to choose from, including this “water bottle” from the Charles Koch Institute — like anyone else. The former CEO of Massey Energy became the most feared man in West Virginia for his ruthless control over his mines and for …

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May 12, 2014

Federal Judge Dismisses Libel Suit Brought By Coal CEO Robert Murray: The Opinion

This morning, United States District Judge Gregory L. Frost dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by Robert Murray, CEO of coal company Murray Energy, against blogger Mike Stark and the Huffington Post.  Some reporting on the case is here and here.  Stark was represented by the ACLU of Ohio and me.  Below I’ve posted Judge Frost’s decision and the papers filed by both sides in the case.

Judge Frost’s Decision Granting Motions to Dismiss

Robert Murray’s Complaint

Mike Stark’s Motion to Dismiss

Huffington Post’s Motion to Dismiss

Murray’s Opposition to Stark Motion to Dismiss

Murray’s Opposition to Huffington Post’s …

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April 25, 2014

VIDEO: Chief Coal Industry Lobbyist Won’t Say If Coal Causes Climate Change

Does burning coal, one of the most carbon-intensive fuel sources on the planet, contribute to climate change?

That simple question stumped the industry’s most prominent advocate, Robert “Mike” Duncan, at a Colorado mining conference last week. Asked twice by Republic Report, Duncan first said that a “lot of people believe” that coal causes climate change, before replying, “I’m not answering your question.”

Duncan, the president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), gave a talk to a room filled with mining industry executives about the dangers of new EPA rules concerning greenhouse emissions. ACCCE, which represents the …

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February 25, 2014

Governors’ Coastal Drilling Coalition Tied to Oil Lobbying Firm, Metadata Reveals

Since 2011, a group of governors have sought to expand coast oil and gas drilling through an organization called the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition. On Monday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) became the first Democrat to join the effort, which includes Republican governors from North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) is the current chair of the OCS Governors Coalition.

The organization claims that it is merely seeking new revenues for state governments. New revenues from oil and gas exploration “can help state and local governments fund coastal conservation and hurricane protection …

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February 4, 2014
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Breaking For-Profit College News: VA Shopping Tool, Coalition Letter, Andrews Quitting

Developments are happening at lightning speed on for-profit college issues.

This morning:

1. The Department of Veterans affairs launched a new website, the GI Bill Comparison Tool, allowing vets, and to some extent other students, to compare college options. The initiative is part of action on President Obama’s 2012 executive order to protect vets and current service members against predatory education practices, an order that the for-profit colleges’ trade association, APSCU, called a “deeply unfortunate development.”  The site is still missing some information as to some colleges, but it has a lot of useful material for prospective students — for-profit colleges are …

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January 18, 2014
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Media for Sale: Coal Lobby Buys Politico, Real Clear Politics Events

Last week, the political news website Real Clear Politics hosted a Washington DC event (video) targeted at an elite media and policy audience. Held at the gleaming Newseum, site of many such events, it was entitled, “U.S. Energy Policy: The Road Ahead,” and appeared to be a genuine policy discussion. It was, in fact, an infomercial.

The event was sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a major trade organization for the U.S. coal industry. ACCCE was paying to have an energy discussion before journalists and policymakers – and for the opportunity to have ACCCE’s CEO Mike Duncan …

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November 1, 2013

Blogger asks Court: Dismiss Libel Case Over Article Linking Cuccinelli to Coal CEO Murray

This morning, my co-counsel from the ACLU of Ohio and I filed a motion asking a federal court to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Robert Murray, CEO of the coal company Murray Energy Corp., against our client Mike Stark. Murray has sued over this article that Stark wrote on the Huffington Post blog about Murray’s campaign donations to Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.  Murray also has sued the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, and others working for her site.

We believe Mr. Murray’s case has no merit. All the facts alleged by Mike Stark in his article are true, and …

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October 1, 2012
Jim Talent endorsed the coal industry in a Romney campaign policy paper without telling you that his firm lobbies for the coal industry.

Top Romney Advisor Jim Talent Tied to Coal Lobbying, Wal-Mart Spying — and Todd Akin

Former Missouri Senator Jim Talent has emerged as a key policy advisor and public surrogate for Mitt Romney, and he is “regarded by insiders as a contender for a Cabinet-rank position if Romney wins the election,” maybe even Secretary of Defense. Just this morning, Talent appeared 0n MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” to preview Romney’s debate performance and criticize President Obama’s handling of the economy, the federal deficit, and the Middle East.

At the same time, Talent runs a big DC lobbying firm that represents major corporations, like the coal industry.

Last fall, the Romney campaign released an energy policy paper that …

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