The third Congressional District of West Virginia comprises some of the greatest coal producing counties in the country, if not the world. In West Virginia, live the men and women who go in the mines that produce that coal. Families depend on those who toil in those mines for their livelihoods. These men and women who work these mines are loved for being the unique and brave individuals they are.
Recently the prosecution of Don Blankenship placed the nation’s spotlight on those who manage these mines. The light of that prosecution revealed three things:
One, that those who reap the profits of those mines are callously indifferent to the risks and sacrifice that families of the miners make just to earn their daily bread.
Secondly, that there must be consequences for those who make the decision to recklessly endanger the lives of those miners into whose care they are entrusted.
Third, past politicians have failed to provide sufficient legal sanctions to enforce safety laws of this industry in the face of growing challenges to profitability. The glare of this spotlight reveals that it was cheaper to buy the lawmaker, and ignore the law than to provide safety for the worker.
I have great confidence in our jury system. I do not question the decision of the jurors in this case. I believe that all who were involved in the prosecution and ultimate conviction of Don Blankenship acted to the highest possible standard. But I also have to comment that the penalty suffered by Blankenship for risking the lives of twenty-nine men does not come close to balancing the scale of justice.
There are weak-minded people, who advocate that these safety regulations and the penalties for risking the lives of miners should be a casualty in the “War on Coal.” These same people whose morals are equally weak will state that safety should be sacrificed on the holy alter of profits. These politicians are simply providing evidence to growing suspicions that they are not working for the people, but are only being jerked by the strings of wealthy puppeteers.
Recently Democratic presidential candidates have come out for greater penalties for those who risk lives for profit. This is the tradition of Democrats in our state like Robert C. Byrd who devoted their political careers to serving the working men and women of our state. I am the Democratic nominee for Congress in the 3rd district. If elected, I promise to be the voice of the working men and women of this state. I will do all that is in my power to convert these political promises into meaningful reality.
People are entitled to live and work in safe environments.
WV 3rd District