The Federal Election Commission deadlocked on whether to investigate charges that coal company owner Robert Murray violated campaign finance laws by coercing employees to make campaign contributions, according to documents released May 20.
The action on Murray and his Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp. followed a similar deadlock last year over charges that employees and their families were required to attend a 2012 rally for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (4059 Money & Politics Report, 7/27/15
The three FEC commissioners holding Democratic seats issued a May 20 statement
sharply criticizing their three Republican colleagues for voting to dismiss the latest case, designated Matter Under Review (MUR) 6661.
“This case of political coercion in the workplace reverberates beyond the realm of U.S. elections,” said the statement from FEC Democrats Ann Ravel and Ellen Weintraub, along with FEC Vice Chairman Steven Walther, an independent who holds a Democratic FEC seat.
The Murray case “goes to the very core of the relationship between employer and employee,” the three commissioners added. “Every citizen should feel free to give—or not to give—to the candidates and political causes of their choice, inspired by their own convictions, and free from outside pressure or coercion.”
The three Republican FEC commissioners—Chairman Matthew Petersen and Commissioners Lee Goodman and Caroline Hunter—did not issue a statement on the matter.