Ex-Coal CEO And Convicted Felon Tosses Support Behind Trump

(REUTERS/Chris Tilley)

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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A former coal baron now serving time in prison for skirting safety regulations announced Sunday his support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Don Blankenship, who formerly ran West Virginia-based Massey Energy, told his Twitter followers that the former reality TV star is the right man to lead the country.

The former coal CEO is currently serving a one-year prison sentence for conspiring to violate mining regulations after a 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 people.

“In 1980 Americans elected Ronald Reagan to tear down a wall. On Tuesday Americans need to elect Donald Trump to build a wall,” Blankenship wrote.

A jury convicted Blankenship, who ran Massey Energy from 2000 to 2010, in December for attempting to thwart safety rules culminating in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in 2010.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger also fined Blankenship $250,000 for the misdemeanor charge.

Blankenship said in a statement in the hearing that he is “not guilty of a crime,” and told the families of the coal miners that they were “great guys, great coal miners.”

The lawyers for the former CEO of the country’s sixth largest coal company said they planned on appealing the conviction, adding the explosion was caused by a buildup of methane in the coal mine, not unsafe equipment.

Blankenship declared his innocence in a 67-page booklet published in October titled “American Political Prisoner.”

“You can be sure I am fully innocent,” he wrote. “In fact, more than 100 percent innocent. I spent my life improving coal miner safety and exercising my right to free speech… The real conspiracies were the government’s cover-up of the UBB truth and my prosecution.”

Blankenship’s support for Trump probably won’t play well in coal country, especially in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, where the Republican nominee is duking it out with his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

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