Constitution Party of Virginia Chairman Attacks Presidential Nominee Don Blankenship

John Bloom, chairman of the Constitution Party of Virginia, which disaffiliated from the national party last June and attempted to reaffiliate last month, wrote a letter, posted on American Third Party Report, in which he makes false statements about newly-minted 2020 Constitution Party presidential nominee Don Blankenship and calls the national Constitution Party a “FAKE political party.”

Bloom falsely claims Blankenship is “responsible for the deaths of 29 minors.”  Blankenship was CEO of Massey Energy during the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster in which 29 miners, not minors, perished in an explosion due to improper ventilation.  Blankenship was neither found personally responsibility nor accused criminally of being personally responsible for the deaths.  Instead, his misdemeanor conviction was for conspiring to willfully violate safety standards, which were not directly related to the explosion.  He was found not guilty of making false statements and securities fraud, which were also unrelated to the explosion.  Blankenship blames the explosion on the negligence of officials from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Bloom accuses the “CORRUPT” national Constitution Party of “undermining their own political party to help Donald Trump and the Republican Party” citing outgoing chairman Frank Fluckiger’s supposed replacement of the Chairman of the South Dakota Constitution Party with a “REGISTERED REPUBLICAN.”  This story goes back to 2018 and concerns an internal dispute within the state party.  The FBI refused to investigate the allegations.

Bloom seems upset that national Constitution Party delegates did not take his advice not to nominate Blankenship.  He calls on national and state media to expose Constitution Party leaders as “FRAUDS” and hopes to see party leaders placed in “Orange Jumpsuits and in JAIL.”

Bloom seemingly endorses Libertarian presidential candidate Justin Amash at the end of his letter.  This does not make much difference since the Constitution Party of Virginia is not a qualified party and never has been previously.  The party has had to petition to get on the ballot each cycle and there is nothing stopping the national party from petitioning in Virginia and using the “Constitution” label.

20 thoughts on “Constitution Party of Virginia Chairman Attacks Presidential Nominee Don Blankenship

  1. paulie

    This seems too editorial to me.

    “Blankenship was neither found personally responsibility nor accused of being personally responsible for the deaths.”

    While he wasn’t legally charged with the deaths, there’s plenty of room to reasonably say that he was responsible for his company’s negligence of worker safety and thus morally responsible for those deaths. Bloom is far from the first person to say so. In fact that claim is linked to an article, one of many, which does so.

  2. paulie

    The link is to https://www.amazon.com/Price-Justice-Story-Greed-Corruption/dp/1250048680

    This is more accessible: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_Big_Branch_Mine_disaster

    …The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) released its final report on December 6, 2011, concluding that flagrant safety violations contributed to the explosion. It issued 369 citations at that time, assessing $10.8 million in penalties….

    ….On May 19, 2011, the independent investigation team released a report which faulted both Massey Energy and the MSHA for the blast.[29] Massey was strongly condemned by the report for multiple failures to meet basic safety standards outlined in the Mine Act of 1977.[29][30] “A company that was a towering presence in the Appalachian coal fields operated its mines in a profoundly reckless manner, and 29 coal miners paid with their lives for the corporate risk taking,” read the report.[31] The investigation found that the company’s ventilation system did not adequately ventilate the mine causing explosive gases to build up.[31] Also detailed in the report are allegations that Massey Energy threatened miners with termination if they expressed safety concerns.[32] Numerous other state and federal safety standards that Massey failed to comply with were detailed in the report.[29]….

    …MSHA safety inspectors failed to enforce the safety protocols at Massey Energy’s Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine. In 2007, a fire broke out at the Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine killing two miners. The report described the fire as “preventable” and cites an internal MSHA review following the fire which found that inspectors “were shocked by the deplorable conditions of the mine” and that MSHA inspectors had failed to enforce adequate safety measures. Furthermore, the report outlines how in the lead up to the blast the UBB mine “experienced at least three major methane-related events:” one in 1997, another in 2003, and a third in 2004. Instead of addressing these issues, “Upper Big Branch management elected to consider each methane outburst or explosion as an anomaly.” …

    …The report states that Massey used its power “to attempt to control West Virginia’s political system.” The report cites how politicians were afraid of the company because it “was willing to spend vast amounts of money to influence elections.” Massey intentionally neglected safety precautions for the purpose of increasing profit margins according to the report. Safety precautions in mines are “a hard-earned right paid for with the blood of coal miners,” read the report’s introduction.[6] These findings were repeated by miners and their families.[33][34]….

    …In 2009, the company, Massey Energy, was fined a total of $382,000 for “serious” unrepentant violations for lacking ventilation and proper equipment plans as well as failing to utilize its safety plan properly.[41] In the previous month, the authorities cited the mine for 57 safety infractions.[42] The mine received two safety citations the day before the explosion, 600 in the preceding 18 months, and 1,342 in the preceding five years. The CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship, has received criticism for his apparent disregard of safety.[34][43] Press coverage surrounding the event reported that the MSHA had cited the Upper Big Branch mine for over 1,300 safety violations since 2005 before the explosion,[44] including 57 citations the month before and over $382,000 in fines over the previous year surrounding its ventilation plan and equipment. Federal records showed the company was fighting some of the highest fines or refusing to pay them.[45]

    The Upper Big Branch Mine-South, where the explosion occurred, has been in operation since October 1994.[46] Between 2000 and 2009, two fatalities occurred at this mine.[47] Between 1995 and 2010, the Mine Safety and Health Administration levied over $2.2 million in fines against Massey for more than 3,000 safety violations.[48][49] In the previous year, 50 of the safety violations, more than 10%, were categorized as “unwarrantable failures to comply,” which indicates willful or gross negligence; this was higher than the 2% national average.[50]

    One miner said mine officials “buy off judges and have political connections. They disregard safety rules; they get away with it. And most of all they work you to the bone.”[33] Another miner said “When you work for Massey, you give your life to Massey.”[33] According to the World Socialist Web Site, many of the mine’s infractions prior to the explosion entailed a sharp increase in coal production, and that mine officials had political connections and would bribe judges in addition to disregarding safety rules and overworking employees.[33] …

    …On December 6, 2011, the MSHA concluded its investigation, deciding that the disaster was an entirely preventable coal dust explosion. It said “the root cause of the tragedy” was “unlawful policies and practices” of the company and issued 369 citations at the same time as the report.[7][51][52] …

  3. Justice Apash

    This is more like an op-ed. “Bloom falsely claims Blankenship is ‘responsible for the deaths of 29 minors.’ Blankenship was CEO of Massey Energy during the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster in which 29 miners perished in an explosion due to improper ventilation. ” -This is a disputed claim but not a false claim. Just cause someone was not held legally responsible does not mean they are not morally responsible. In 2010 a PG&E gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno investigations showed the company covered up the fact that they knew the gas lines were in need of repair and upgrades. However the investigation could not find the specific people responsible for the cover-up but the cover-up likely included multiple executives over many decades. Again, we can dispute how responsible Blankenship is for the disaster but he was the CEO of the company. We can get into a discussion about how much he knew and when. However to say this is a false claim is ridiculous.

  4. wolfefan

    Agreed, Paulie. The post makes the common mistake of interpreting a not guilty verdict with a finding of actual innocence. The link to an article that undermines the assertion is a bonus.

  5. Justice Apash

    “Bloom accuses the “CORRUPT” national Constitution Party of “undermining their own political party to help Donald Trump and the Republican Party” citing outgoing chairman Frank Fluckiger’s supposed replacement of the Chairman of the South Dakota Constitution Party with a “REGISTERED REPUBLICAN.” This story goes back to 2018 and concerns an internal dispute within the state party. The FBI refused to investigate the allegations.”

    -Why would the FBI investigate an internal party matter? Did the FBI investigate the American Independent Party when it nominated Alan Keynes. Just because they refuse to investigate does not mean it was not true. Did Frank Fluckiger not replace the Chairman of the South Dakota party in a conference call? In 2006, the claim was that the Constitution Party National Committee could not interfere with the internal affairs of a state party. Now they are saying they can. I know that different people were involved but again multiple state parties left because of this.

  6. paulie

    No minors were killed in the explosion. The statement is false.

    LOL, you are correct. It’s a rather obvious proofreading error. It’s quite clear that the author meant miners, not minors. In the context of your followup “Blankenship was neither found personally responsibility nor accused of being personally responsible for the deaths” it seems pretty clear that you are taking Blankenship’s side of the story rather than merely noting the proofing error. I agree that both sentences are technically correct, but taken together they make an obviously intended impression which is easily disputable. It’s factually incorrect that no one has accused him of being morally responsible for the deaths; he wasn’t prosecuted for being legally liable but that’s not quite the same thing.

  7. Justice Apash

    “This does not make much difference since the Constitution Party of Virginia is not a qualified party and never has been previously. The party has had to petition to get on the ballot each cycle and there is nothing stopping the national party from petitioning in Virginia and using the Constitution label.” Wow with that attitude no wonder the CP is in decline. Just because a state party is not ballot qualified does not the mean the state party does not matter. https://www.constitutionparty.com/elections/ballot-access/ Does this mean that the Constitution Party of Texas does not matter? What about Pennsylvania? New York? In 2012, the CP of V got Virgil Goode on the ballot with the help of the Independent Greens. Many of those parties also run people for local office. “there is nothing stopping the national party from petitioning in Virginia and using the Constitution label.”- Except that the people who were active in Virginia are now pissed off at the National party. I will be very surprised if they make it on the ballot in Virginia. Even without the coronavirus and using the help of the Independent Greens it would have been highly unlikely. How many CP supporters are left in Virginia who are not pissed off at the national CP?

  8. William Saturn Post author

    “Just because a state party is not ballot qualified does not the mean the state party does not matter.”

    I never said it didn’t matter. If the party wants to nominate Justin Amash, what difference does this make when the party lacks ballot access?

  9. Justice Apash

    The people active in the party could have helped with the signatures. It would have been an uphill battle but in 2012 they got on the ballot with the Independent Greens. In 2012, the CP of New York was able to get the signatures to be on the ballot. I know that they used paid petitioners however the more local volunteers you can get the more money you can save in expenses. The Constitution Party of Virginia could have also used money from their treasury to hire people. Now with Justin Amash (if nominated) the CP of V and the LP of V can share the expenses and volunteers needed to get on the ballot.

  10. Justice Apash

    Anyways, as someone who will likely vote for Justin Amash if nominated, I see this development as positive. I hope that former CP supporters will join in. “I never said it didn’t matter. If the party wants to nominate Justin Amash, what difference does this make when the party lacks ballot access?” Maybe I need a lesson in semantics but if something does not make a difference it doesn’t matter. Anyways, I heard the same type of comments from leaders of the CP (some of them commented on IPR and Third Party Watch, in fact), to the effect that parties who were leaving were not important because the state parties had no ballot access. In 2006 when a bunch of state parties left (ironically for the opposite reason of the South Dakota disaster), the attitude was most of the state parties had no ballot access so no big deal. Every time a dispute happened and state parties left, it was no big deal because those parties didn’t have ballot-access. What was lost was the supporters in those state parties that volunteered and donated. Also many state parties with ballot-access did leave.

  11. William Saturn Post author

    So, in other words, you’re just going to help the LP, which probably doesn’t need the help, put its own candidate on the ballot on its own ballot line?

  12. paulie

    LP, which probably doesn’t need the help,

    Not sure how you came to that conclusion. The LP will need a lot of help. I am personally not very optimistic about our remaining ballot access help if we don’t get a lot more relief from the courts.

  13. paulie

    Yes, I do. Corona makes it a lot harder to get people to stop and sign petitions from strangers in public places, the primary method by which we get on the ballot. A lot of ballot drives start with petitions gathered by volunteers and local pros and many of those were gathered before Corona spurred legal restrictions or the level of public fear it now has. Even if the legal restrictions are rescinded much of that public fear will remain. The party won’t be in as good of a position to get petitioners deployed as deadlines near because virtually nothing has been done in many of the remaining states, and not much is likely to be done this month.

    There is talk on LNC list of moving money from the ballot access line item to litigation, to sue states over this situation. It’s not clear how many of those lawsuits will succeed, or will survive all possible appeals by state governments before ballots are printed. Fundraising is also being majorly impacted by corona. If plans for a rescheduled physical convention work out, or if the plans for an electronic convention or LNC vacancy appointment of the ticket don’t happen earlier, states which can’t do substitution will have a shortened time frame to try to get signatures, putting more of a crunch on the availability of petitioners. It leads to a domino effect as they become unavailable to go to other states which also need help as their deadlines approach.

    If a physical convention becomes impossible, there are a lot of refunds that will need to be paid, and no money to pay them with as well as the aforementioned difficulties in fundraising.

    1,500 is a raw number. 5,000 valid typically requires 7,500 to 10,000 or sometimes even more raw.

  14. paulie

    People are more likely to sign petitions from people they know than from strangers in these circumstances. And if there’s a shortage of money to pay petitioners, local volunteers may be able to make up for some of the shortfall in getting signatures from strangers. It’s more difficult, not completely impossible.

  15. paulie

    Another factor I forgot to mention.

    As states reopen, initiative proponents will restart petition gathering to get state issues on the ballot. But it will still be harder to get signatures from strangers in public places. Some of those proponents have deep pockets and can pay hazard pay to make the higher rate of rejection easier to deal with. Parties like the LP don’t have the resources to compete for petitioners with some of those well funded interest groups.

  16. William Saturn Post author

    We’ll see how it works out. I still don’t see how it helps the CP VA to help the LP put the LP’s candidate on the ballot on the LP line.

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