CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hundreds of pages of documents from the Don Blankenship criminal case were ordered unsealed Thursday by a federal appeals court, giving the public its first detailed look at the former Massey CEO’s argument that he is the subject of a “selective and vindictive prosecution” by Democratic prosecutors.
Blankenship’s motions to have the case against him dismissed, and the government’s responses to those motions, were unsealed after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling for The Charleston Gazette and other news organizations, threw out a gag order that had sealed from public view most of the filings in the criminal case against Blankenship.
In the unsealed motions, Blankenship claims he is being singled out because of his criticism of the federal government — especially in an Internet video about the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster — and because of “the West Virginia Democratic establishment’s long-standing hatred” for him.
Lawyers for Blankenship complain in their court filings that federal prosecutors should have given them notice before seeking a grand jury indictment against Blankenship so they could try to convince government officials to drop the case, a practice they said is common in “white collar” criminal investigations.
In the newly unsealed court records, Blankenship’s legal defense team also argues that federal judges in Southern West Virginia won’t dismiss the criminal charges against him because the case was brought by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and throwing out the case would disappoint Goodwin’s father, U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.
“The motivation for this indictment was not to enforce the law, but to silence Don Blankenship,” the former Massey CEO’s lawyers argue in one of a long list of motions to dismiss. “The inescapable conclusion from this record is that Mr. Blankenship was not indicted because of his involvement in criminal conduct, but rather because of the political establishment and the prosecutor’s desire to punish him for exercising his rights to criticize the government…