Coal Workers Say They Were ‘Coerced’ Into Making GOP Donations

“You’ve got a great boss,” Mitt Romney proclaimed to a crowd of coal miners at a campaign rally in August.

He was referring to Robert Murray, the CEO of Murray Energy, one of the largest coal mining operators in the country.

For Romney, that statement was particularly true. According to accounts from multiple coal miners, employees were forced to attend the event without pay. “Just for the record, if we did not go, we knew what would happen,” said one miner in a letter to a local radio station. Weeks later, Romney’s campaign featured images of the coal miners in a pro-coal ad. (The Obama campaign hit back this week with an ad claiming Romney used coal workers as “props”).

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. An expose from New Republic Senior Editor Alec MacGillis shows that Murray Energy is doing far more than requiring employees to spend uncompensated time at campaign events — the company is actually requiring them to donate to GOP candidates like Romney:

The accounts of two sources who have worked in managerial positions at the firm, and a review of letters and memos to Murray employees, suggest that coercion may also explain Murray staffers’ financial support for Romney. Murray, it turns out, has for years pressured salaried employees to give to the Murray Energy political action committee (PAC) and to Republican candidates chosen by the company. Internal documents show that company officials track who is and is not giving. The sources say that those who do not give are at risk of being demoted or missing out on bonuses, claims Murray denies.

The Murray sources, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, came forward separately. But they painted similar pictures of the fund-raising operation. “There’s a lot of coercion,” says one of them. “I just wanted to work, but you feel this constant pressure that, if you don’t contribute, your job’s at stake. You’re compelled to do this whether you want to or not.” Says the second: “They will give you a call if you’re not giving. . . . It’s expected you give Mr. Murray what he asks for.”

This spring, Murray organized a fundraiser for Mitt Romney, eventually bundling more than a million and half dollars for the candidate. According to the New Republic, employees of Murray Energy have donated more than $1.4 million to Republican candidates — with $120,000 raised for Romney this campaign season alone.

While employees say Murray does not explicitly force them to make donations, he makes it very clear what could happen if they don’t contribute some of their salary to Republicans. “We have been insulted by every salaried employee who does not support our efforts,” he wrote in one 2012 letter obtained by the New Republic.

And in a 2011 letter to company managers, Murray alluded to potential consequences if employees did not donate: “Please see that our salaried employees ‘step up,’ for their own sakes and those of their employees.”

Other national candidates supported by the “coerced” donations of coal workers include House Speaker John Boehner, Scott Brown, Rand Paul, David Vitter, and Congress’ most aggressive climate denier, Jim Inhofe. “Hopefully you will support every one of these friends of coal,” wrote Murray to his employees.

Murray, who is a fierce defender of the coal industry, is also a fierce climate denier. He has called climate change a “theory” and has blamed climate scientists for supposedly “perpetuating fraud.”

As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney once proclaimed that coal plants “kill people” and established a “no regrets” plan to combat global warming. Today, with massive financial backing from the fossil fuel industry, Romney says that “we don’t know” what’s causing global warming. And in the presidential debate this week, he proclaimed “I like coal.”

Now we know why.


Related Stories:

Welcome to Coal World

Do Obama and Romney Even Care About the Environment?

Top 7 Lies of the First Debate


Photo: screenshot from Youtube

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Robin Thomas
Robin Thomas3 years ago

I'm so sick of our politicians and government officials being paid off by corporations. Corruption at it's finest. Who do you think they're gonna be looking out for? You and me? Hell no!

Sheri D.
Sheri D.3 years ago


Ken W.
Ken W.3 years ago

I would like to see Romney work one day in a coal-fired plant but he could never do it !!

Linda W.
Linda W.3 years ago

'Mr. Romney joined activists outside an aging, coal-fired plant in 2003 to show his commitment to the emissions caps. “I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people, and that plant, that plant kills people,” he said'.
~And now MittTwitt supports coal for their $$$$$$ and gives a shit about the people who risk their lives to get it~

Robert H.
Robert Hamm3 years ago

HIgh Fives Rob K. Romney is investing in the very companies that have been exposed to tying to ruin OUR companies. And NOW they are trying to do the same thing with cell phones. Flood the market with their cheap shit. But we are trying to stop that thank gawd.

Leslie Gaiter
Leslie Gaiter3 years ago

These 1 percenters, you have to love their style. Not even pretending they care about their workers or anyone else but themselves.

I thinking about running for office in 2014. I've written a series of position papers on various subjects that I would love your comments on. The position papers can be found at

Thank you

Rob Keenan
Rob Keenan3 years ago

Your claim that 19 Federally funded green companies have failed is so far above the actual number,Steve R.,that being labeled by you "Democraps" actually complements us.The actual number of Federally funded green companies that went bankrupt ,before Obama took the action that stopped China from undercutting the price for the technology,was 3 out of 26,or 11.5 %.And,Steve R.,your current hero,Mitt ,had investments in a Chinese solar firm,known for it's sweat shop work conditions,until 2011 when he sold the stock because he was about to run for President,for Pete's sake !

J M A.
Jeanne Marie A.3 years ago


silja salonen
silja salonen3 years ago

why am i not surprised

Pat M.
Pat M.3 years ago

How awful and un American!