A new investigation by NPR and other news entities foundthat West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice owes $15 million intaxes and fines.
Justice, who owns multiple coal properties and is running onthe Democratic ticket, has been highly for his past debts and for minesafety issues. The investigation follows one conducted by NPR two years ago thatfound similar behavior.
The report found that the debts were spread across sixstates and included property and minerals taxes, state coal severance andwithholding taxes, and federal income, excise and unemployment taxes, as wellas mine safety penalties, according to county, state and federal records. NPRalso noted that Justice has contributed $2.9 million to his own campaign in theform of in-kind contributions and interest-free loans in the past 16 months.
The investigation also revealed that Justice's delinquentcoal mines had a worse-than-average safety record based on citations and injuryrates.
Justice's debt is a sore point for at least one other coaloperator. At a recent event supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate BillCole, Murray EnergyCorp. CEO Robert Murray blasted Justice because he would notsupport a reduction in the state severance tax — even though the NPRinvestigation found that much of Justice's unpaid debt comes from not paying the tax.
"He ought to pay his bills because he's giving the restof us in coal a bad reputation," Murray said as others from the coalindustry applauded at a Logan County, W.Va., event.
Justice owns entities including andSouthern Coal Corp..