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Ex-convict coal magnate says to run for Senate

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Don Blankenship, the former CEO of coal company Massey Energy who was recently released from jail after a sentence for violating mine safety laws, said on Wednesday he plans to run for U.S. Senate representing West Virginia.

“It’s true,” he told Reuters in an email, without elaborating.

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Local broadcaster WCHS-TV first reported the news earlier on Wednesday, saying Blankenship filed his registration papers this week to run as a Republican, making him an official candidate for the seat during 2018 elections.

A Federal Election Commission spokeswoman said she had not yet seen the filing.

Blankenship was sentenced to a year in prison in April 2016 for conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards, following an explosion in 2010 at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 people.

He is the most prominent American coal executive to be jailed for mine deaths.

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He was released in May 2017. He has maintained that his conviction was unfair and the accident at Upper Big Branch was distorted by the media.

If Blankenship wins the Republican nomination, he would be up against incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin, who was governor at the time of the Upper Big Branch explosion and vehemently criticized Blankenship over the incident.

Rival Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey said he welcomed Blankenship’s entry into the race.

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(Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Andrew Hay and Cynthia Osterman)

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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