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NC Treasurer Cowell, multi-state coalition targets Massey board members

North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell and the leaders of eight other government retirement and investments systems are trying to send a message to the owner of West Virginia 's Upper Big Branch Mine in which 29 miners were killed last month. The coalition wants shareholders to withhold votes for three members of Massey Energy's board of directors at next week's annual shareholders meeting. The three members - Baxter Philips, Richard Gabrys and Dan Moore - serve on a Massey's Safety, Environmental and Public Policy Committee. A letter to shareholders notes a history of safety violations at the Upper Big Branch and other Massey operations. Treasurer Cowell says shareholders should not ignore that record: "Massey Energy's record speaks for itself, and obviously it's pretty clear there are serious and sustained safety violations," Cowell says. The coalition owns more than 1.3 million shares of Massey worth about $64 million. Cowell says North Carolina is the largest investor in the coalition with shares valued at about $17 million. She says Massey's problems at the Upper Big Branch mine alone have and will continue to decrease the value of that investment. The coalition has also called on Massey CEO Don Blankenship to step down as chairman. In addition to North Carolina, the coalition is comprised of state systems in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania and New York . The New York City Employees Retirement System is part of the coalition as well. North Carolina also has investments in BP. "We're looking at that," Cowell said, but did not elaborate.