Will West Virginia’s Senator Manchin be indicted over Upper Big Branch before or after the state’s coal-fired media re-selects him?

Editor’s note:

Before you read Mr. Estep’s diatribe, I suggest that you listen to the following short video. It isn’t an ad, it’s an admission of guilt by former governor Joe Manchin at the 2008 Coal Symposium. Note the audio evidence that WV senator Rockefeller witnessed Manchin boasting that he’d told his safety regulators to relax enforcement of violations in the mines:


In Estep’s article below he includes the link to the full motion, full length video of Manchin’s Coal Symposium presentation.

Will West Virginia’s Senator Manchin be indicted over Upper Big Branch before or after the state’s coal-fired media re-selects him?

by Cesco Estep

ON June 18, 2012, Ken Ward Jr. reported that U.S Attorney Booth Goodwin praised Alpha for ‘great strides’ addressing ‘systemic problems it inherited’ from Massey Energy.

What I want to know is when will Goodwin charge former WV governor Manchin with manslaughter for his deadly “Retail Government” policy? What I’m also wondering is when will West Virginia’s major newspapers report the whole truth for once? It is certainly newsworthy that Manchin actually was recorded telling mine operators that he’d instructed his mine safety regulators to go easy when they saw repeated violations and to not shut down the mines.

Isn’t it worth at least one headline that then-governor Manchin was pulling down a huge paycheck as a coal broker when Upper Big Branch exploded due to (in part) his policy of relaxed regulations? Yet the corporate-owned media remains silent, obviously hoping to squeeze just one more giant payday out of Manchin’s multinational extraction industry backers in the form of campaign advertising for his second run for U.S. Senate.

If you think Manchin wasn’t personally invested in cranking out as much coal as possible out of Upper Big Branch and all the other mines in West Virginia, then its likely because the Charleston Newspapers Group (who should have been reporting this connection all along) has never gotten around to letting voters know that at the time of the explosion he was raking in more cash as a coal broker than he was pulling down as governor -due to his lax policy of enforcement by his top mine safety regulators!

From the New York Times:

“In the 19 months before winning his Senate seat in a hard-fought special election, Manchin reported operating income of $1,363,916 from Enersystems. His next disclosure showed $417,255 in Enersystems income.”

Although his son is now supposedly running Enersystems (which is listed primarily as a coal brokerage), because at some point in time Manchin reportedly placed his interest in a “blind trust”. Nonetheless it is a little hard to swallow that Manchin was acting on behalf of the people of West Virginia when he told those coal owners that he’d instructed “his people” to lay off his industry whenever they saw safety or health violations!

Lest you believe that Manchin didn’t have a major conflict of interest at the time, current presidential candidate Mitt Romney revealed what he knows about how a “blind trust” actually works. He should know, not just because he’s an extremely successful businessman, but because he also served as the governor of Massachusetts,:

That, along with the video of Manchin’s admission of guilt prior to the Upper Big Branch explosion, is pretty strong evidence that most any politician can be caught on camera speaking the truth, eventually.

Let’s review 3 facts:

1. ALL of the official reports stated that the explosion at Upper Big Branch would have been avoided if mine inspectors would only have simply enforced existing laws and regulations. That assessment was also included in the press release for U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin’s plea agreement with Massey. So it appears that at the very least, mine inspectors and their agency heads are just as guilty as Massey because they didn’t enforce existing laws.

2. THE VERY FIRST OFFICIAL REPORT published after the disaster, which was authored by former MSHA director Davitt McAteer, stated unequivocally that the disaster took place because of a “too cozy” relationship between the coal company and politicians!

He did it quite eloquently, stating,

“Such total and catastrophic systemic failures can only be explained in the context of a culture in which wrongdoing became acceptable, where deviation became the norm. In such a culture it was acceptable to mine coal with insufficient air; with buildups of coal dust; with inadequate rock dust.”

How could this situation have developed into the “norm” unless mine regulators were either bribed by Massey or else instructed by their superiors to ignore? Stopping just short of naming names, McAteer’s team pointedly explained,

“It is only in the context of a culture bent on production at the expense of safety that these obvious deviations from decades of known safety practices makes sense.“

In other words, by undercutting the mandate of entire agencies that had been upheld for DECADES, Manchin’s “Retail Government” fostered a culture that very likely resulted in state-sponsored MANSLAUGHTER.

McAteer’s report branded the inability of the state of West Virginia (while under governor Manchin) to protect the lives of miners as “a political failure – a failure by the state’s government to nurture and support strict safety standards for coal miners.

But McAteer didn’t stop there, he went on to say, “If miners’ lives are to be safeguarded, the cozy relationship between high-ranking government officials and the coal industry must change, as must the relationship between the enforcement agency and the industry it regulates”.

To easily check my quote within the context it was originally used, you can download the pdf version of that report from the source found at this link, and then using your pdf search engine enter the searchword: cozy. It’s found in Chapter 12, titled The Normalization of Deviance which is found at this link.

http://www.nttc.edu/programs&projects/minesafety/disasterinvestigations/upperbigbranch/chapter12.asp

Unbelievable as it may seem, Manchin was actually recorded admitting to having instructed his regulators to go easy and not shut down the mines whenever they saw a violation. While at the podium before the 2008 Coal Symposium Manchin’s exact words were:

“Hey John, you’ve got a problem here, now before I write you up with a violation, here’s what I think you ought to do to fix it.”

There were reports that the “John” that Manchin was directly addressing was his pal John Raese, a coal mine owner and WV media mogul who was in the crowd at the time. This was in 2008, well before Raese had declared his intentions to stage his candidacy for U.S. Senate. Anyway, Manchin went on to say,

“Let’s get together, get our people together. I’ll come back in a week or a month or whatever the rotation time would be. Then if you’ve made those changes, tried to make the changes, we’re working in the right direction. Rather than going out with a ball bat and a cease and desist order and fines, I’d rather you spend the money to fix what’s wrong, try to make it safer, than give the money to government. I guarantee you we won’t fix it.“

Don’t take my word for it, though. Check it out at this link

At the top of this report I called for a review of 3 facts but only listed 2, so here’s the last fact, which really ties it all together:

3. Back when he was riding around in Massey’s corporate jet Manchin was raking in more cash being a coal broker than he acting as our governor.

For the sake of justice someone should let the unfortunate relatives of those who died at Upper Big Branch know that while Manchin may proclaim to be a “Friend of Coal”, his cozy Retail Government relationship with Don Blankenship was at the root of what got those men killed. Don’t count on the mainstream media to do it, because Manchin’s Coal Symposium pals have pitched in millions for his campaign war chest, AND HE SURE AS HELL WON’T SPEND IT ADVERTISING IN ANY WHISTLE BLOWER MEDIA.

I’m betting that John Raese’s WV MetroNews corporate holding* will never cover it, nor will Bray Cary‘s West Virginia Media, which broadcasts and whose flagship is “The State Journal”. Chilton’s Coalpatch Daily Flail may eventually mention Manchin’s holdings, but it’s a pretty safe bet neither paper will ever get around to connecting how his cashing in while maintaining a deadly Retail Government policy set up a situation which caused the deadliest West Virginia mine blast since the Farmington disaster of 1968. Why it’s not emblazoned across both of Chilton’s papers is a mystery.

In an effort to look “fair and Balanced” in the blog that the Charleston Newspapers provides him, Ken Ward has actually reported Manchin’s personal ties to the coal brokerage EnerSystem, but he has never tied Manchin’s company earnings to the former governor’s culpability at Upper Big Branch, and the fact that Manchin is a coal broker has never been published in the Gazette.

*Johnh Raese’s father passed several producing coal mines down to him. He also owns 25 radio stations across West Virginia and is the founder of the METRONEWS network, which has 56 affiliates that reach every nook of the state. He is Vice President of the West Virginia Newspaper Publishing Company, which publishes The Dominion Post, Morgantown’s daily newspaper. Rease also serves as Chairman of the West Virginia Radio Corporation, and has announced his intention to run against (Dinocrat) Manchin a second time, again on the Republican ticket.

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