Ex-coal boss Don Blankenship paints prosecution as blowback from Sen. Manchin, Democrats

MarketsAssociated Press

Ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship contends he's in prosecutors' crosshairs because he produced a video that enraged Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.

Federal prosecutors in West Virginia vehemently deny it.

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Blankenship tries to tie Manchin to U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin in newly unsealed court documents.

The filings became available after the AP and other media successfully challenged a judge's gag order. Most were sealed and most participants were barred from discussing the case.

Blankenship's attorneys wrote that prosecutors targeted him after he made a video last spring about the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion. It shifted blame for the blast that killed 29 men.

Prosecutors said the case resulted from a lengthy investigation, including previous convictions.

He's charged with conspiring to violate safety and health standards at the mine.