WILLIAMSON – Don Blankenship has filed a third defamation lawsuit in as many months, this time singling out The Boston Globe for being involved in a conspiracy to keep him from being elected in 2018 to the U.S. Senate.
In his complaint filed May 20 in Mingo Circuit Court, the former Massey Energy CEO says Boston Globe Media Partners LLC doing business as The Boston Globe. He also lists unknown Does 1-50 as defendants as well.
In what he calls “A Case of Weaponized Defamation,” Blankenship cites an Associated Press story that ran in the May 22, 2018, edition of the Boston Globe. That was two weeks after Blankenship lost in the Republican primary to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
The AP story was headlined “Former W.Va. Coal Executive to Pursue Senate Seat Despite GOP Primary Loss,” and was written by John Raby.
“The Boston Globe article falsely described Mr. Blankenship as a ‘convicted felon and former coal baron,’” the complaint states. “The Boston Globe knew that it was false to describe Mr. Blankenship as a convicted felon because it had correctly reported, on December 3, 2015, that Mr. Blankenship had been convicted of only a misdemeanor and acquitted on all other charges.”
Blankenship also says the AP story appeared in other publications and on websites without the felon reference, instead saying “convicted ex-coal baron Don Blankenship.”
The 23-page complaint details Blankenship’s business history, his federal misdemeanor conviction, his plan to run in 2018 for the U.S. Senate seat held by Joe Manchin, what he calls the defamatory attacks and schemes against him.
Dan Krockmalnic, general counsel for The Boston Globe, told The West Virginia Record he hadn't reviewed Blankenship's latest lawsuit and declined comment for now.
This lawsuit follows two similar ones filed in March and April, both also in Mingo Circuit Court.
In the second defamation lawsuit filed last month, Blankenship sued Donald Trump Jr. because the president’s son published a tweet to his 3.5 million followers on May 3, 2018, calling Blankenship a felon.
In 2015, Blankenship was convicted of one federal misdemeanor charge of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards. The federal jury found him not guilty of securities fraud and not guilty of making false statements after the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in Raleigh County that left 29 miners dead in 2010. Both of those charges were felonies.
“We did not want to sue Trump Jr., but he left us no choice,” Blankenship told The Record when that suit was filed. “He slandered me just days before an election for a U.S. Senate seat. This is entirely unacceptable as it deprived West Virginia voters of a fair election.
“’Fake News’ – whether spread by CNN, Fox or Trump Jr. – has to be stopped. President Trump himself has said that ‘Fake News’ is an enemy of the people.”
In March, Blankenship filed a $12 billion lawsuit claiming national media outlets and leading Republicans intended to defame him in his 2018 U.S. Senate bid. That suit named, among others, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and the NRSC as defendants.
In all three of the defamation lawsuits, Blankenship notes that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other senators expressed to the media that they did not want him to win the election.
“In reaction to my possibly winning the election, a Political Action Committee apparently controlled by Senator Mitch McConnell launched a $1.3 million negative and false ad campaign against me,” Blankenship said. “However, in the words of the media, I continued to ‘surge’ toward the lead in the race. In fact, I took the lead in most polls including polls taken by my opponents.
He claims the GOP then went to the media for help. That includes former New Jersey judge and current Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano, who had heard cases by New Jersey native Morrisey. Morrisey eventually won the Republican nomination, but lost to incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin in the 2018 general election.
Blankenship also blames government officials for controlling the national media.
In his latest lawsuit, Blankenship accuses the defendants of defamation and conspiracy to defame as well as false light invasion of privacy/conspiracy. He seeks general and special damages as well as a permanent injunction prohibiting republication of the defamatory statements and requiring removal of those statements from public access. He also seeks punitive damages, damages for emotional distress, interest and other relief.
In all three of his recently filed cases, Blankenship is being represented by Jeffrey S. Simpkins of Simpkins Law in Williamson as well as Eric P. Early, Jeremy Gray and Kevin Sinclair of Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae in Los Angeles.
Mingo Circuit Court case number 19-C-68