Robert Murray is the Founder, President, CEO, Chairman of the Board of Murray Energy Corporation, a U.S. coal mining company.
A biographical note states that Murray:
- "During his 31-year tenure at The North American Coal Corporation, Mr. Murray held various supervisory, management, engineering, marketing and operating positions, culminating his service as Executive Vice President and President and Chief Operations Officer from 1983 to 1987, and President and CEO in 1987. Mr. Murray left North American in late 1987 to create his own independent coal mining companies."
"Mr. Murray, a registered Professional Engineer and private pilot, is a member of the Boards of Directors of the National Mining Association, American Coal Foundation, National Coal Council, Ohio Coal Association, and Pennsylvania Coal Association, and is Past President and a Trustee of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc., and the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Inc., as well as Past President of The Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Institute, and other industry and civic organizations."
CEO Murray and political donations
2010 election and climate denial
In February 2010, Murray Energy’s political committee and executives, including CEO Robert Murray, combined to contribute nearly $25,000 to California GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina’s campaign against Barbara Boxer, the incumbent Democrat. (At the same Ohio fundraiser, Fiorina obtained an additional $39,000 from Midwestern companies that sell coal mining equipment and supplies.)
In May 2010, Murray Energy donated $30,000 to California’s Proposition 23, which would suspend the state’s AB 32 anti-global warming measure until the state economy rebounds from the recession. Another donor, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a Washington, D.C.-lobbying group, gave $5,000. Prop. 23 is sponsored by the energy industry, and its biggest booster is the Valero Energy from San Antonio, Texas.
It is assumed that the company targeted Boxer and the anti-AB 32 proposition because of CEO Murray, who has dismissed global warming as “hysterical global goofiness." Murray and Boxer went head-to-head over the issue at a 2007 Senate hearing on environment and public works. Former Vice President Al Gore and "Silent Spring" author Rachel Carson were also criticized by Murray, who said: "The hysterical and out-of-control climate change or global warming issue, and the legislation that you have proposed, will lead to the deterioration of the American standard of living and the accelerated exportation of more of our jobs to China and other developing countries, which have repeatedly advised, as recent as last week, that they will not limit their carbon dioxide emissions.... Albert Gore touts that his role model has always been Rachel Carson, with her picture on his wall, who led the environmental movement to ban DDT. She and her environmental followers killed millions of human beings around the world with the ban on DDT, which has since been found by the World Health Organization to be very safe to humans in controlling global epidemics."
Employee donations and coercion
In May 2012, Murray hosted a $1.7 million fund-raiser for Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whom Murray employees had thus far given more than $120,000 for the 102 election cycle. The accounts of two sources who have worked in managerial positions at Murray, and a review of letters and memos to Murray employees, suggest that Murray has for years pressured salaried employees to give to the Murray Energy political action committee (PAC) and to Republican candidates chosen by the company. Internal documents show that company officials track who is and is not giving. The sources say that those who do not give are at risk of being demoted or missing out on bonuses, claims Murray denies. Yet the Murray sources say that, at the time of hiring, supervisors tell employees that they are expected to contribute to the company PAC by automatic payroll deduction – typically 1 percent of their salary, a level confirmed by a 2008 letter to employees from the PAC’s treasurer. Employees are given a form to sign, explaining that the giving is "voluntary."
Mitt Romney visited Murray Energy's Century Mine in August 2012 to promote jobs in the coal industry. Hundreds of coal miners and their families attended. It was later found that Murray's Pepper Pike company told workers that attending the Romney event would be both mandatory and unpaid, a top company official said in a West Virginia radio interview.
Post 2012 election layoffs
The day after Barack Obama was reelected to a second term in 2012, Murry read a prayer to some of his staff and announced layoffs. He said: “Lord, please forgive me and anyone with me in Murray Energy Corp. for the decisions that we are now forced to make to preserve the very existence of any of the enterprises that you have helped us build.” The Washington Post reported that he also laid off 54 people at American Coal, one of his subsidiary companies, and 102 at Utah American Energy, blaming a “war on coal” by the administration of President Barack Obama.
Articles and resources
- "Management Bios", Murray Energy website, accessed October 2012.
- Lance Williams, "Ohio coal company that backed Fiorina also gave to Prop. 23" CA Watch Blog, July 27, 2010.
- Stephen Lacey, "Coal Workers Say Murray Energy ‘Coerces’ Them To Make GOP Donations: ‘If You Don’t Contribute, Your Job’s At Stake,’" Climate Progress, Oct 5, 2012.
- Sabrina Eaton, "Coal miners lost pay when Mitt Romney visited their mine to promote coal jobs," The Plain Dealer, August 28, 2012.
- Steven Mufson, After Obama reelection coal company CEO reads prayer to staff, announces layoffs, November 9, 2012