Last week, West Virginia Democratic candidate Gov. Joe Manchin released an ad that blasted GOP candidate John Raese for his company’s record on mining safety. Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, says that Manchin worked with them “to pass a historic amount of safety laws,” and adds that Manchin’s “always been there for us.” Then a narrator announces that Raese’s companies have almost $100,000 in proposed fines and over 600 safety violations. “John Raese puts profits before people,” Roberts concludes, “and I don’t trust him to look out for these miners.”
It’s a serious charge to make, in a state still reeling from April’s mine explosion that killed 25 people — the worst such incident since 1984. Not surprisingly, then, Greer Industries, a company owned by John Raese, has issued a press release detailing the safety record at the company’s five mines. “These ads are misleading at best and are at worst, with regard to certain facts, untrue, false, and defamatory,” the company argues. They go on to a list a number of safety awards won and point out that there have been no fatalities in any of their five mines for years now. And while Greer doesn’t refute that the “over 600 safety violations” charge, the company does put its number of violations in a wider context. From the press release:
What this ad fails to mention is that these violations occurred over a 15 year period for all five of our mines. We averaged less than .6 violations per inspection which is excellent and puts us at the forefront of mine safety in our State. Moreover, this misleading safety ad was filmed at Eastern Associated Coal LLC’s Federal No. 2 Mine. Federal No. 2 mine, one of Eastern’s thirteen mines, has had 757 state and federal mine violations in little over a year—more than our five mines have incurred over the last 15 years.
The Raese campaign has also responded to a different Manchin ad which claims that “John Raese failed to pay workers compensation.” Raese campaign manager Jim Dornant told The New York Times that “the workers compensation claim was the result of a $3,300 bookkeeping error and that Greer Industries, Mr. Raese’s company, paid if off as soon as it was brought to their attention.”