Washington (CNN) – Executives of the company that owns a West Virginia coal mine that claimed 25 lives on Monday have long been involved in donating to state and national political leaders.
People associated with Massey Energy, along with its political action committee, donated more than $307,000 to federal candidates since the 1990 election cycle, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The center found that 91% of that money went to Republicans.
In addition, the company's CEO, Don Blankenship, has personally donated more than $60,000 since 2000 - all of it to GOP candidates and causes.
"Don Blankenship ... is a particularly active political bankroller," a report from the center finds. In the last two years, according to its information, Blankenship has given $30,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; $2,300 to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma; $2,300 to former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, who was exploring in 2008 presidential bid; and $2,000 to Pennsylvania senatorial Candidate Pat Toomey.
The company's PAC has not been particularly active in the last couple of election cycles. The center did find that 16 current members of Congress - 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats - received some money from employees of Massey Energy or its PAC. Much of the money given by the committee in previous elections has gone to candidates for state office, including those running for the state legislature.
According to disclosure reports, Massey Energy has done some federal lobbying, although the center found that it did not spend the maximum allowed between 2005 and 2009. It lobbied for a tax change, among other issues.
The political activity for which the company and Blankenship are best known involved his spending of $3 million in 2004 to support a campaign by Brent Benjamin running for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Massey Energy had been involved in a business dispute with a rival mining company, and a jury in 2002 awarded the other company, Harman Mining, $50 million.
Massey Energy, which was alleged to have helped force the other company out of business, waited for four years to appeal. Blankenship defended his political donations, saying that "without a change in the (state) Supreme Court, businesses will continue to avoid West Virginia."
In 2006 Justice Benjamin, the beneficiary of Blankenship's donations, refused to recuse himself from Massey's appeal and then voted to overturn the jury's verdict.
The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled last year that Justice Benjamin should have recused himself.
– CNN Supreme Court Producer William Mears contributed to this story.