UPDATE: Blankenship issues statement after attending Clinton event

Published: May. 3, 2016 at 12:11 PM EDT
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UPDATE 5/3/16 @ 6:41 p.m.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Don Blankenship's attendance at Hillary Clinton's campaign stop in Williamson Tuesday has sparked mixed reaction.

The Clinton camp said: "It was a pretty outrageous sight to see Don Blankenship, of all people, apparently rallying against Hillary Clinton's plans and commitment to help our coal communities."

Tuesday afternoon, Blankenship spoke out in a statement saying:

"Secretary Hillary Clinton was apparently offended by my presence at one of her campaign stops. She should understand that as a lifetime member of coal country and a proud West Virginian, I am interested in any suggestions she has to address the problems coal miners and coal communities face today. It is disappointing that she is choosing to promote her political campaign by demonizing me.

"It is no secret that I have made enemies in high places by defending coal miners and by being critical of mine regulators and government bureaucrats who seek to destroy miners’ jobs.

"Secretary Clinton routinely claims that investigations into her conduct occur for political purposes, so she should understand better than most that Mr. Goodwin launched his campaign for governor by unjustly prosecuting me.

"Ms. Clinton has made no effort to understand anything about the UBB explosion. She has not even read, much less considered, the mine law safety enhancements I have posted on my website at

"My suggestions will save coal miners’ lives. How can she or anyone argue that more air is not better for coal miners, that mapping does not need to be improved or that MSHA should be allowed to continue to investigate itself.

"I do hope that whoever is elected will demand a truly independent investigation of the UBB explosion, the cover-up of the facts by MSHA, the disappearance of emails and the destruction of government documents. Someday the truth about MSHA's failure at UBB and its frantic effort to protect itself in the aftermath will have to be told."

Blankenship is to report to federal prison next Thursday, May 12, for his misdemeanor conviction of conspiring to violate mine safety laws at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

ORIGINAL STORY 5/3/16 @ 12:11 p.m.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Hillary Clinton is speaking out after Don Blankenship showed up at one of her campaign events in West Virginia Monday.

Clinton's campaign spoke out on Twitter Tuesday morning.

A statement was also released form Hillary for West Virginia State Director Talley Sergent.

"It was a pretty outrageous sight to see Don Blankenship, of all people, apparently rallying against Hillary Clinton's plans and commitment to help our coal communities. As President, Hillary Clinton will prioritize federal legislation to make sure the likes of Don Blankenship can never again get away with showing such blatant disregard for our miners and their safety. Our campaign is proud not to have Don Blankenship's endorsement. If Donald Trump wants to accept his support, then he owes a serious explanation to the families of our miners we lost at Upper Big Branch and the people of West Virginia."

Blankenship was sentenced April 6 to a year in prison for conspiring to violate mine safety standards at Upper Big Branch Mine.

Prosecutors are urging a federal appeals court not to allow Blankenship to remain free during his appeal. Government lawyers say allowing the former Massey Energy CEO to continue his $1M bail would be against federal law.

The law only allows appeals to delay sentences in "exceptional circumstances."

Blankenship is scheduled to report to prison on May 12.