Monday, May 15, 2006

Whistleblower Wins Playboy First Amendment Award

Jack Spadaro, former director of the National Mine Safety and Health Academy, is one of eight winners of the 2006 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards for their personal achievements in defending the First Amendment:
Jack Spadaro (Government): The director of the National Mine Safety and Health Academy who put his life on the line when he blew the whistle on irresponsible mining practices, corporate collusion, and government cover-up in the wake of an environmental mining disaster.
Spadaro, you may recall, was fired for blowing the whistle on an investigation of an October 200 slurry spill that was being whitewashed by Bush administration officials. To repeat, Spadaro was
an outspoken critic of a federal investigation into a huge spill of coal sludge in eastern Kentucky three years ago. The accident, at the Martin County Coal Company, is considered one of the biggest environmental disasters in the Appalachian region.

Mr. Spadaro accused political appointees in the Mine Safety and Health Administration of cutting the investigation short, playing down the coal company's culpability and not holding federal regulators accountable for weak oversight. He was a member of the team investigating the spill before he resigned in protest in 2001.

Mr. Spadaro has also raised questions about no-bid contracts that he contends were awarded to friends and former business associates of David D. Lauriski, the assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, and other senior mine safety officials. His complaints led to an investigation by the Department of Labor's inspector general.

Related Articles