The coal company Murray Energy agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for failing to disclose it funded anti-Obama signs during the 2012 election cycle, according to a decision by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The FEC ruled Friday that Murray Energy will be fined for not disclosing payments for signs saying “STOP the WAR on COAL — FIRE OBAMA” in the months leading up to the 2012 election. The FEC investigation found that Murray Energy had paid $22,000 for anti-Obama signs, but did not include a disclaimer on them as required by federal election laws.
Murray energy argued it didn’t know it had to disclose paying for the signs, adding that the signs could “reasonably be read to primarily advocate a policy result longtime publicized” by the company. Murray also argued it stopped distributing the signs once a complaint against them was filed, and the company noted it hadn’t included a disclaimer because other similar signs did not have one.
The FEC didn’t buy Murray Energy’s arguments, finding that the company should have disclosed the spending to the commission and included disclaimers on its signs. The FEC determined the signs were meant to swing votes to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during the 2012 election.
“Because Murray Energy’s ‘STOP the WAR on COAL – FIRE OBAMA’ signs are public communications that contain express advocacy, they required a disclaimer,” FEC attorneys wrote in their legal filing based on a complaint brought by an Ohio liberal group.
Murray Energy’s founder and president has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s coal policies. Murray has accused Obama of waging a “war on coal” and has sued the EPA over power plant regulations.
“President Barack Obama, his appointed cabinet cronies, and his supporters in the U. S. House and Senate are rapidly accelerating their attacks on our jobs; and nothing has been enacted to even slow them down, let alone stop them,” Murray told an Ohio University crowd in 2013. “Mr. Obama has totally usurped the legislative branch of our federal government in his radical agenda.”