Coal Tattoo

Blankenship re-emerges with donation to M.U.

Nearly two years after he “retired” from Massey Energy, Don Blankenship still fascinates a lot of people. Well, maybe fascinates isn’t the right word. But anyway, people ask me all the time if I know what he’s up to — if he’s really getting back into the coal business, for example.

I haven’t been able to find any federal political donations by Blankenship since September 2011 [UPDATED: Blankenship did donate $500 to W.Va. House of Delegates candidate Fred Joseph) and there’s no word on whether the Kentucky coal company he bought is going to actually start mining. He said last year that he had moved to Johnson City, Tenn., and he appears to have registered to vote there.

The last we heard from Blankenship, he was giving us a morality lecture in the Daily Mail. But this week, he’s back again, with a donation to the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University.  The school’s press release reported:

Donald L. “Don” Blankenship, a 1972 Marshall University graduate, has generously committed $300,000 over a three-year period for scholarships at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Blankenship made the pledge in honor of his mother, Nancy Marie McCoy, who passed away in 1995. The first $100,000 gift was received in early September.

Blankenship is quoted:

The demographics of southern West Virginia mean that there will be a continuing and increasing need for high quality local doctors. I am fortunate to be able to contribute in a small way toward fulfilling this need, while at the same time honoring my mother’s memory, helping my alma mater, and helping these gifted students to achieve their dreams of becoming doctors.

Under the program:

Ten second-year medical students who meet the financial scholarship requirements and exhibit high academic achievement will each receive $10,000 to help defray the cost of medical school tuition. The awards will be renewed for each student annually for two years, pending satisfactory academic progress.

Good for Blankenship.  But oddly enough, there’s no mention in the release of the connection between needing medical care and working in the coal industry or living near a mountaintop removal mining operation.

Instead, Linda Holmes, director of development and alumni affairs, was quoted:

We are grateful to Mr. Blankenship for his support of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and specifically his commitment to helping our students. His generous gift will go a long way in assisting our students achieve their dreams.

The press release also mentions:

Don Blankenship is a recipient of Marshall University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, and he was inducted into the College of Business Hall of Fame in 1999. Additionally, he was the recipient of the West Virginia Society of CPAs’ 2002 Outstanding Member in Business and Industry award.

The words “Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster” don’t appear in the release.