Last week, disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship filed paperwork to officially enter the West Virginia U.S. Senate race. Yet according to court records, he does not even consider the Mountain State his primary home.
On a Federal Election Commission “statement of candidacy” form dated Nov. 30, Blankenship lists his address as a post office box in Williamson, West Virginia.
Yet as recently as this October, the Charleston Mail-Gazette reports, Blankenship was telling the federal courts he planned to make Nevada — not West Virginia — his primary residence. (I added arrows for emphasis to all of the images in this post, which were sourced from documents made public by the Charleston Mail-Gazette.)
Shortly after reporting to a federal prison to serve a one year sentence for conspiracy to willfully violate mine health and safety standards in May 2016, the former Massey Energy CEO petitioned the courts to have his post-release federal supervision moved to Nevada.
The courts agreed to the request three months after his May 2017 release, noting, according to the documents, “this modification will allow Mr. Blankenship to relocate to the District of Nevada per his request.”
Then in October, just six weeks before Blankenship filed paperwork to run for office in West Virginia, Blankenship’s probation officer sent a letter to the courts once again reaffirming that Blankenship now called Nevada home.
“Blankenship plans to make the district of Nevada his primary domicile, and has purchased a home in Las Vegas, Nevada,” the Oct. 16 letter reads.
In fact, Blankenship has been claiming to live in Nevada since he was first charged in relation to the Upper Big Branch mine disaster that killed 29 miners back in 2014.
“Since his indictment Nov. 14, 2014, Blankenship and his criminal defense lawyers repeatedly said he had moved to Las Vegas from his native Mingo County, and that the Nevada city was his home,” reported the Charleston Mail-Gazette, which has closely followed Blankenship’s case.
Blankenship’s current residence is significant because the U.S. Constitution prescribes that a Senator resides in that state where he or she was chosen to serve.
And as a federal offender currently on supervised release in Nevada, Blankenship may require permission to even travel to West Virginia to campaign.
According to Blankenship’s political consultant Greg Thomas, though, the wealthy coal baron considers himself an “American political prisoner” and claims every right to run as a full-fledged West Virginian even though he is not always there.
Speaking to Bloomberg News, Thomas says Blankenship only lives in Nevada “part-time” and was in West Virginia in late November.
Blankenship has also wasted no time getting his “public campaign effort for the truth” on the Mountain State airwaves, using his considerable coffers to run ads in West Virginia markets calling the Big Branch Mine disaster “Obama’s deadliest coverup” and lamenting that “government corruption is pandemic.”
Blankenship, who was welcomed to the race by his fellow GOPers, is currently one of three GOP candidates running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Joe Manchin.
His federal probation will end on May 9, just one day after the West Virginia primary.