Friday, June 3, 2011

Bad Guy(s) Finish First

Massey Energy and its CEO, Don Blankenship, were among the worst of the “bad actors” in corporate America.  For years, the company systematically ignored safety regulations to increase coal production.  Instead of changing its ways and focusing on worker safety, the company and its outspoken CEO stonewalled federal regulators through legal obstructionism.   Blankenship showed extraordinary arrogance and contempt for Federal oversight, even for a CEO.

These practices culminated in the April, 2010 explosion that killed 29 workers.  A State of West Virginia investigation concluded on May 19th that the company “operated its mines in a profoundly reckless manner.”

Yet, the CEO who showed such contempt for those outside the company who tried to protect the workers stepped down last December with a $45 MILLION retirement package.  Then, as pressure on the company heated up as investigations revealed systemic unethical and illegal practices, the board of directors sold the company to Alpha Natural Resources for $7 billion.  So the company head and its investors ended up making millions and millions of dollars.  This week the takeover withstood legal challenges and was completed.

This outcome is sickening to ethical investors and should be to citizens as well.  Let’s hope that we don’t see another story like this for a long time.

Steve Lehman

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