Pro-Romney energy company accused of extorting contributions from workers
The Ohio Democratic Party on Monday formally requested that the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio launch an investigation of Murray Energy, which has been accused of forcing its employees to make political contributions to Republican candidates.
“I write to formally request a criminal investigation concerning a recent report suggesting the Murray Energy Corporation, its subsidiaries, and management (“Murray Energy”) may have engaged in a pattern of illegal activity, extorting millions in financial contributions from employees and vendors for Republican candidates running for public office,” Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern wrote to U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach.
Two Murray Energy managerial sources told The New Republic that the company pressures employees into giving money to the Murray Energy political action committee (PAC) and to Republican candidates. In addition, internal documents revealed that the company tracks which employees are and are not making contributions. Employees of the company allegedly fear that if they do not make the political contributions and attend fundraisers, they will face repercussions including demotions and being refused bonuses.
Murray Energy has given more than $1.4 million to Ohio state and federal candidates for public office, with the majority of that money going to Republicans.
The energy company has also been accused of forcing employees to attend an August rally with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Coal miners said they feared being fired if they did not attend the event. Images from that event have been used in Romney campaign ad, sparking a Federal Elections Commission complaint by the liberal group OhioProgress.
Murray Energy denies any wrongdoing. In a statement, the company said the allegations “are simply an attempt to silence Murray Energy and its owners from supporting their coal mining employees and families by speaking out against President Barack Obama’s well known and documented War on Coal.”
“It is unfortunate that there are political entities in America, such as The New Republic and the Ohio Democratic Party, that will go to no limits to destroy innocent people to get their candidates elected,” Murray Energy added.