On October 1, 2019 Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin chartered a state-owned plane for an out-of-state fundraiser in West Virginia hosted by Murray Energy — owned by GOP mega donor Robert Murray — while many of it’s Kentucky workers faced potential layoffs amid its ongoing financial crisis.
A day after Bevin’s fundraiser with Murray Energy, the organization admitted to recently failing to pay their private lenders on time, a move that typically serves as a warning sign of an organization with the potential to be forced into bankruptcy. If Murray Energy files for bankruptcy, some 300 of its workers in Kentucky could be left without work.
“This is a crisis situation for us,” said Phil Smith, director of communications and governmental affairs at the United Mine Workers of America.
The timing of Bevin’s fundraiser with Murray Energy at minimum is likely to raise suspicions as to whether the governor was aware that Murray Energy was considering laying off its Kentucky workers as he attended the event. If the governor was aware, it only raises further questions about his commitment to Kentucky’s workers.
And according to reporting by 14 News, in September 2019 Murray Energy-owned mines in Ohio and Muhlenberg County, Kentucky were notified of their failure to comply with Kentucky State Law that requires companies to post bond for its workers; a safeguard protection allowing workers to still receive paychecks in case of a bankruptcy. In 2018, Bevin pushed Kentucky lawmakers to support a measure repealing the bond requirement, and only enforced the law after public pressure when Blackjewel laid off over 1,000 of its workers — many of which were based in Kentucky — this past July.
Next week, Bevin is seeking reelection as Kentucky Governor.