Montana Republicans love coal almost as much as they love the campaign contributions that the coal industry shovels their way to prop up an increasingly unsustainable and undeniably polluting industry. For the sake of a little bit of dirty money, Daines, Gianforte and other Montana Republicans have been unrelenting cheerleaders for the dying industry, including for Cloud Peak Energy which is collapsing because of mismanagement and greed.
That greed has been on full display as Cloud Peak goes through the process of bankruptcy. Despite cutting health care benefits for retired workers last fall, Cloud Peak is giving massive bonuses to the very executives that drove the company into ruin. From the Sightline Institute:
It may seem strange, but the management team that drove Cloud Peak into a ditch will emerge from the bankruptcy process not merely unscathed, but rich. In a recent SEC filing, Cloud Peak reported that total incentives and retention bonuses for its “key” executives could exceed $16 million for the year.This year’s massive payout comes on top of a whopping $78 million that Cloud Peak’s top brass took home between 2010 and 2017, according to the company’s financial filings.
In fact, as the Wall Street Journal notes, Cloud Peak paid just nine executives nearly $6 million in bonuses just months before declaring bankruptcy.
Cloud Peak’s behavior—slashing health care benefits for those who actually did the dangerous and unhealthy work of extracting coal while shifting millions to a few executives—is just more evidence of the con Republicans are playing on workers: while politicians argue that they are working to save jobs, the priority is ensuring that those at the top reap the rewards, promises to workers and local communities be damned.
Daines, Gianforte, and the Montana Republican State Central Committee were among the top recipients of Cloud Peak money in 2018, taking in almost $15,000 from the company in 2018 alone. In 2014, Daines received an additional $10,000, and in 2012, he and Denny Rehberg received almost $20,000.
And that money seems to have bought silence in the face of the betrayal of workers. Gianforte and Daines, happy to take campaign contributions from Cloud Peak, have been silent as the company’s top executives have stolen money that rightfully belonged to workers.
Where are the press releases demanding that Cloud Peak honor its commitment to its retirees? The demands that executives not give themselves massive bonuses for having crashed the company?
As we head into another campaign season, don’t be fooled by Daines and Gianforte claiming they support jobs or workers. Their interest is always with the monied class that will turn its back on those workers the moment an opportunity presents itself, giving themselves the gold and making sure that workers just get the shaft.