Corporate front group funded by coal industry scorns widow of mine disaster: “Everyone wants free money”

Later apologizes for distasteful and baseless comment, locks Twitter account

This is a Think Progress repost by Lee Fang.

Yesterday, the AP reported that Marlene Griffith, a widow of William Griffith, one of the 29 men killed in last week’s explosion at a coal mine in West Virginia, is suing Massey Energy, the owner of the mine. Griffith filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Raleigh County Circuit Court, arguing that Massey’s handling of work conditions at the mine plus its history of safety violations amounted to aggravated conduct that rises above the level of ordinary negligence. Marlene and here husband were to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary weeks after the deadly blast on April 5.

Indeed, as the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has reported, the mine where William Griffith worked had been cited for over 3,000 safety violations. Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who has mocked safety regulators as being “as silly as global warming,” had gummed up the safety regulations process by filing endless appeals instead of paying fines and fixing safety problems.

Responding to the lawsuit, Nathan Coffey, the Public Affairs Coordinator of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), took to Twitter yesterday to mock Marlene Griffith. Coffey posted a link to the AP story about Marlene Griffith, sarcastically commenting that “Everyone wants free money!” View a screen shot of the comment below:

Nathan Coffey

ALEC, founded in 1973 by conservative activist Paul Weyrich, is a DC-based front group which helps state lawmakers craft corporate-friendly legislation. State-based schemes aimed at deregulation are often conceived and coordinated out of ALEC. It is funded by some of the biggest corporations in America, including Koch Industries, Wal-Mart, and AT&T, as well as by the coal industry. Peabody Coal’s Kelly Mader, a Vice President for State Government Affairs at the company, sits on the board of directors of ALEC.

Update Nathan Coffey has apologized for and retracted his “distasteful,” “insensitive” and “baseless” comment, saying he did not read the story before mocking the widow.

JR:  The links to Coffey’s tweets are all dead.  Apparently he has “locked” his twitter account, so at least something good came out of this.

5 Responses to Corporate front group funded by coal industry scorns widow of mine disaster: “Everyone wants free money”

  1. Neven says:

    I think wanting dirty money is even worse than wanting free money.

  2. mike roddy says:

    The views of people like Coffey and others in ALEC are all of a piece. They would pay the miners $4 an hour if they could, and tell them to sell the family piano to pay for the funeral when there is an accident. If family farmers are poisoned by being downstream from mountaintop removal operations, the ALEC crowd thinks they should move to Wheeling and get a job at Walmart.

    This is a mentality borne of selfishness and cruelty, and does not deserve descriptors like “conservative” or “libertarian”.

  3. Berg says:

    @ mike roddy: you said it!

  4. substanti8 says:

    It’s amazing that we live in a society that still grants a corporate charter to criminal organizations like Peabody Coal – whose destruction of Kentucky was immortalized in song by John Prine.

    While corporations get personhood, mother nature does not.  If humanity’s gross negligence toward the biosphere were the subject of a lawsuit, global warming would be the sentence.

  5. Richard Brenne says:

    Mike Roddy (#2), your comment might hold the record for saying the most in the fewest words. It is so sad, poetic and accurate it deserves to be etched in stone, or better yet coal.