The involvement of a state representative in a major coal deal in Kentucky is raising some eyebrows. The $7 billion contract signed yesterday creates a 25-year standing order to ship 9 million tons of Kentucky coal annually to India. Pike County Representative Keith Hall was instrumental in brokering the deal—but he also has several coal-related businesses. He also sits on the board of FJS Energy—the New Jersey-based company that signed the contract. Hall says his involvement in the deal was both as a state lawmaker and a businessman.
“I’m very proud to say I wear both hats. This didn’t put one dime in Keith Hall’s pocket but maybe in the future, they’ll maybe take more of my coal, mine more of my coal and put my people back to work.”
Richard Beliles of Common Cause Kentucky, a government watchdog group, says Hall’s involvement may not have crossed any ethical lines yet, but it’s definitely ethically questionable. Hall has gotten into trouble for mixing his legislative duties with his business interests before—he was fined $2,000 for an ethics violation last year.