Blood money in politics

The mine owner in the Crandall Canyon cave-ink had a long history of safety violations and yet got permission from MSHA to pursue “retreat mining” at Crandall Canyon. He was also a generous donor to Republican candidates and committees. Are they going to give the money back?

Yes, elections have consequences. Some of them are deadly.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration &#8212 headed, predictably under the Bush Maladministration, by one coal-industry executive after another &#8212 allowed Robert Murray, the operator of the Crandall Canyon mine, to carry out the risky maneuver called “retreat mining”: essentially, mining the supporting columns of an almost played-out mine on the way out the door. This despite the judgement of the mine’s previous owner that retreat mining was too dangerous at a depth of 1800 feet, and Murray’s long and deadly record of mine-safety violations. (Another of his companies was fined $14,000 (!) when a miner died after his arm was cut off by a conveyor belt because the company hadn’t made adequate first-aid preparations.)

But don’t imagine that Murray got away Scot-free. By no means. He has paid and paid.

To be specific, he has paid (in the form of campaign contributions) George Voinovich, Sam Brownback, James Inhofe, Bob Corker, Steve Chabot, Deborah Pryce, Mike DeWine, Pete Ricketts, Rod Grams, Richard Pombo, and Joy Padgett, plus $10k to the RSCC and checks to a bunch of right-wing PACs.

In addition, the Murray Energy Corporation Political Action Committee shelled out more than $200,000 last cycle to some of the same folks, plus George Allen, Chuck Blasdel, Shelley Moore Capito, Geoffrey Davis, John Ensign, Craig Folitin, Katherine Harris, John Isakson, Tom Kean, Mark Kennedy, Joh Kyl, Gregory Parke, Rick Santorum, Jean Schmidt, Michael Steele, Jim Talent, and Patrick Tiberi. Chris Cannon was added to the payroll this year. Not a Democrat among them, I’m pleased to say.

Just for icing on the cake, Murray is a global warming denialist, too; no doubt some of his money found its way into the right-wing pseudo-think-tank industry.

For some reason, the conventions of American political reporting do not require that, in cases such as this, recipients of blood-money contributions be asked whether they intend to keep them. I hereby propose a new convention.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: