On August 14, several hundred coal miners joined Mitt Romney at the Century Mine near Bealsville, Ohio, to cheer the Republican nominee as he denounced a “war on coal” by the Obama administration. Two weeks later, an official of the company that owns the mine, Murray Energy Corp. (which has given more than $900,000 to Republican candidates in the last two years, far more than any other coal company) admitted that the miners were not all there by choice. “Attendance at the Romney event was mandatory,” Rob Moore, the chief financial officer of Murray Energy told radio host David Blomquist. Mandatory, but unpaid. Because the mine was closed for the Romney event, miners lost a day of pay. Is this legal? Is this right? Interestingly, just a few days after the rally, the F.E.C. decided a case involving an employer in Hawaii that required its employees to campaign, on their own time, for Democratic congressional candidate Colleen Hanabusa. (The employer happened to be a union, but the case had to do with its staff, not its members.) In what might seem like a reversal of partisanship, the Commission’s three Democrats supported the general counsel’s judgment that such coercion violated the Federal Election Campaign Act, which forbids employers from coercing workers to contribute to a campaign. But its three Republicans argued that because the work was part of an independent effort by the union, and didn’t involve contributions to the campaign itself, the law didn’t apply: A union or corporation’s “independent use of its paid workforce to campaign for a federal candidate post-Citizen’s United was not contemplated by Congress and, consequently, is not prohibited by either the Act or Commission regulation.” Without a majority on the Commission, it was unable to act.