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 her 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:
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.