Murray Energy fined for campaign violations but employees remain vulnerable to abuse
This month, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) made public its decision to fine Murray Energy Corporation, an Ohio-based coal mining company, for violating federal campaign finance laws. The FEC found that Murray Energy illegally failed to disclose the company’s expenditures on campaign signs it distributed in the Buckeye State before the 2012 elections. The signs, which omitted any notice that they were paid for by Murray Energy, advocated that readers “STOP the WAR on COAL — FIRE OBAMA.”
This is not the only time Murray Energy has run afoul of federal campaign finance laws. More than three years ago, CREW filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that Murray Energy and its Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert E. Murray, illegally coerced employees to contribute 1 percent of their annual salary to the company’s PAC and threatened them with reprisals, including losing their jobs, if they didn’t do it. Further, a separate complaint filed with the FEC around the same time similarly alleged that Murray Energy forced its employees to attend a rally for then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. And a former employee of Murray Energy filed a lawsuit in 2014 alleging that she had been illegally fired for refusing to donate to Murray Energy’s handpicked political candidates. The complaint attached a letter from Robert Murray to the terminated employee soliciting donations for four Republican candidates.
Despite the serious allegations raised by Murray Energy’s conduct and the recommendation of the FEC’s General Counsel to find that Murray Energy violated the law, the FEC deadlocked on the complaint alleging it forced employees to attend campaign rallies. And despite the fact that it has been pending for over three years, there is no indication that the FEC has addressed CREW’s complaint. It is far past time for the FEC to rein in Murray Energy’s abuse of its employees and its disregard for our Nation’s laws.