Local "newspapers" eventually cover decision
After the yesterday morning's Intelligencer did not cover the decision, the Friday afternoon News-Register covered (for some reason this is not available online) the Blankenship court decision with parts of an AP report. About 30% of the AP report was dropped including the following material about mine safety higlighted in bold:
Prosecutors said justice isn’t measured only by the length of a prison sentence. Some other experts agreed, but say lawmakers should toughen penalties for breaking federal mine safety and health laws. . . .
There’s no question that mine safety laws should be strengthened, said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania. “Putting the lives of workers at risk in unsafe mines should be a felony and I will continue to push to change the law so that those operating unsafe mines are held fully accountable,” his statement said.
And this morning's Intelligencer, published another AP report -- this time with the last 40% dropped.
What did our gubernatorial candidates have to say about the decision?
Our "locals" didn't check (they depended exclusively on AP reports) but David Gutman in this morning Gazette-Mail reported this from Jeff Kessler:
“Although I’m disappointed that the available penalty for the Blankenship conviction doesn’t seem to fit the crime, it’s good to see that the justice system did impose some level of accountability on mine operators and those who place profit above people,” Kessler said in a prepared statement.
And Jim Justice, sounding like a Republican, did not want to politicize the verdict and so he will continue to pray:
“I am not a politician,” Justice said in a statement from his campaign. “I want to set the record straight that I am not going to use this type of tragedy as a political football to gain popularity. Cathy and I will continue to pray for the coal miners lost at Upper Big Branch, as well as their families, who are still grieving.”
Finally, Republican Bill Cole declined to comment. (The Gazette-Mail mentioned, as did Mike Myer in his Saturday column, that the U.S. Attorney in the case, Booth Goodwin is also rumored to be running for governor.)
Gutman also noted Justice's and Cole's financial connections to Blankenship:
In 2012, Blankenship attended the Kentucky Derby as Justice’s guest. The two were also invited to a gala at the Kentucky governor’s mansion. Justice was himself the guest of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat.
Cole, along with fellow Republicans in the state Senate, is working with Greg Thomas, Blankenship’s longtime aide and former chief political operative, on a committee to support Republican Senate candidates.
Thomas also is involved with Accelerate West Virginia, an independent super PAC dedicated to supporting Cole’s candidacy.