Gov. Beshear's Special Guests | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Gov. Beshear's Special Guests

Gov. Steve Beshear has been cozying up with big coal executives even more than usual in the last year.

A story this morning by Tom Loftus in The Courier-Journal revealed that Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy who was in charge when 29 miners were killed at the Upper Big Branch Mine in 2010, was was part of the governor's Derby Day entourage this year.

Mine safety graphic (HB 207)

Blankenship accompanied another Beshear guest, James Justice II, owner of the A&G coal company, that has a pending permit to strip mine in Harlan County and threaten the water source for the town of Lynch. They were on a list of people invited to Beshear's Derby Eve Gala and accompanied the governor on a train that took the entourage from Frankfort to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby.

In previous stories, Loftus documented contributions from Justice and family members totaling $271,600 toward Beshear's re-election and inauguration. That breaks down as $50,000 to the Kentucky Democratic Party, $121,600 to the Democratic National Committee (most of which came back to the state party) and $100,000 to Beshear's inaugural committee.

The governor also has gotten a lot of love from Kentucky coal operator James Booth who, along with his family and employees, spent $279,300 toward the governor's re-election and inauguration. Booth and Linda, his wife, were co-chairs of Beshear's inaugural committee, and he was recently named to the governor's blue ribbon commission on tax reform.

In late 2010, a Booth company, Cambrian Coal, received a water pollution permit from the Beshear administration, overruling an administrative law judge who had blocked the permit because it did not comply with the law.

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