This story was sent to a us from a Kentuckian who found a familiar name from our coverage of White Rock Quarries and their parent company Vecellio Group. We feel it deserves some more traction and offer to it our readers with that in mind. Think Progress filed their story under public corruption which is exactly where it belongs.
Alabama has more in common with Big Coal and special interests than just the parallel covered here, both states have seen their high court elections ramped up by the lobbyists, business groups and trial lawyers to put their favorite candidates on the bench. The story of Blankenship buying a WV judge is well known and Alabama is becoming almost as notorious with the big business backed republican takeover of the high court in the 1990s that has already paid off in a controversial Exxon ruling.
West Virginia's "backyard" and Alabama's are not so far removed as we will illustrate in this post--but for now back to our Big Coal bad boys and their latest scheme...
The premise of the Think Progress article is to demonstrate the lengths these big businesses will go to get ahead and how Washington has helped them drive a frontloader through the CF laws passed that result in unintended(?)consequences. Big Coal has learned how to work the system and take advantage of the SCOTUS rulings on corporate campaign finance laws masterfully:
“With the recent Supreme Court ruling, we are in a position to be able to take corporate positions that were not previously available in allowing our voices to be heard,” wrote Roger Nicholson, senior vice president and general counsel at International Coal Group of Scott Depot, W.Va., in an undated letter he sent to other coal companies.
“A number of coal industry representatives recently have been considering developing a 527 entity with the purpose of attempting to defeat anti-coal incumbents in select races, as well as elect pro-coal candidates running for certain open seats,” Nicholson wrote. “We’re requesting your consideration as to whether your company would be willing to meet to discuss a significant commitment to such an effort.”
The other three companies involved in this 527 scheme are Alliance Resource Partners (ARP), Natural Resource Partners (NRP) and Blankenship's Massey Energy (ME).Nicholson listed three races “of interest”: Conway against Republican Rand Paul for Kentucky’s open Senate seat; Chandler against Republican Garland “Andy” Barr in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District; and Democratic U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall against Republican Elliott “Spike” Maynard in West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District.
NRP along with Consol Energy (CNX) were just recently downgraded by Barron's while Arch Coal moved ahead of Peabody (BTU) (look for Peabody to join this unholy alliance soon)--this does not sit well with investors and corporation heads of NRP, BTU and CNX. What better way to move back into the outperform status than to muscle your way into buying the "right candidates?"
As we have reported on before, the parent company of the White Rock Quarries (WRQ) Vincent Hills project in Vincent, Alabama is the Vecellio Group, a privately owned corporation headed by Leo Vecellio, Jr. Mr. Vecellio is on the Board of NRPs "decision makers" and has been a key executive officer since 2007.
The Seminal (FireDogLake) reported on the connection of the Massey Tragedy and NRP earlier this year by asking the same question we did; "Who Else is Culpable For Massey's Negligence?"
If the old adage of "a man is known by the company he keeps" holds true, then that explains why we keep tripping over the same uber-rich, dirty scoundrels everywhere we turn in so many issues and stories. And it always makes us wonder how much is enough for these devils--just how many yachts, multi-million dollar homes and country club memberships does one person really need?
The next time you take notice of a corruption based environmental issue and say; "That's not my community so I am not really interested in that story or what goes on in that state, it doesn't affect me," take the time to dig a little deeper and see who is behind it. Follow the money.
All of our "backyards" are connected in these environmental assaults that are perpetrated by the same recurring villains (including the politicians that enable them) who destroy our communities and usurp our political and judicial systems in their pursuit of blood money and absolute power.