Fired photographer who leaked photo of Rick Perry hugging coal executive wants his job back

Photographer Simon Edelman claims he was fired from his job at the Energy Department after capturing and leaking a co...

Posted: Jan 18, 2018 10:28 AM
Updated: Jan 18, 2018 10:28 AM

Photographer Simon Edelman claims he was fired from his job at the Energy Department after capturing and leaking a controversial hug between Energy Secretary Rick Perry and a coal executive.

Now he's hoping that he can get his job back, with help from nonprofit law firm Whistleblower Aid.

The Energy Department did not comment on why photographer Simon Edelman was let go from his position

"Mr. Edelman exercised his First Amendment rights and shared some of his public domain photographs with our free press ... in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights, Mr. Edelman ... was unlawfully terminated from his job effective Dec. 27, 2017," John Napier Tye, founder of Whistleblower Aid, wrote in a letter to the Energy Department's acting inspector general.

The document also alleges that Edelman had thousands of dollars in personal possessions "unlawfully seized."

The photos, which were reviewed by CNN, show Perry and Robert E. Murray, head of coal mining company Murray Energy, during a private meeting in March 2017 at the Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, DC. One photo shows the two hugging. Another image is of a cover sheet for an "action plan" related to regulatory changes for the coal industry. Murray was a major donor to President Donald Trump.

In statements in the complaint, Edelman claims that during the meeting, Murray asked Perry for "policy changes that would directly benefit Murray Energy Corporation and Bob Murray's personal financial position." Edelman said he heard Perry tell Murray: "I think we can help you with this."

Edelman told The New York Times in an interview that leaking the images "seemed like that was the right thing to do -- exercising my First Amendment rights to get the information out there." The New York Times and The Washington Post published the images last year.

Edleman and his attorney also argue that there is probable cause for the inspector general to open an investigation into Perry and Murray. They are also requesting Edelman be reinstated to the position and that his personal possessions be returned.

In an email statement to CNN, Department of Energy spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes called Edelman's assertions about Perry and the Energy Department "ridiculous."

"They are based on his own subjective opinions and personal agenda. Industry and other stakeholders visit the Department of Energy on a daily basis," she said in a statement. "The secretary welcomes their input and feedback to strengthen the American energy sector. This meeting was no different."

The Energy Department did not comment on why Edelman was let go from his position.

Gary M. Broadbent, media relations director for Murray Energy Corp., said: "Mr. Murray does not have a recollection as to the exact statements allegedly made nearly a year ago."

"Mr. Murray has frequently said that the Trump administration must advance reliable and low-cost electricity for all Americans and protect coal mining jobs," Broadbent said in the statement, provided to CNN. "We applaud the actions taken by President Trump's Administration, to date, to protect these jobs and to advance the energy security of the United States."

Broadbent said they have not seen the complaint on behalf of Edelman, and "accordingly, we are unable to comment on it."

West Lafayette
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 18°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 16°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 34° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 18°
Fowler
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 18°
Williamsport
Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 17°
Crawfordsville
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 16°
Frankfort
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 16°
Delphi
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 17°
Monticello
Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 19°
Logansport
Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 18°
Decreasing clouds this afternoon with slightly warmer temperatures
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1130719

Reported Deaths: 17736
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1468762242
Lake732391255
Allen68004883
Hamilton51739488
St. Joseph50459650
Elkhart40619547
Vanderburgh34963497
Tippecanoe31212276
Johnson27963467
Hendricks26585385
Porter25969387
Madison21318457
Clark20392279
Vigo19244309
LaPorte17405261
Delaware17004303
Howard16942315
Monroe16794220
Kosciusko14447167
Hancock13259186
Bartholomew13180191
Warrick12320190
Wayne12200269
Grant12181247
Floyd12096226
Morgan10552192
Boone9966124
Noble9429123
Marshall9295147
Henry9268169
Dearborn9053100
Dubois8877140
Shelby8402130
Cass8241128
Lawrence8134185
DeKalb7933109
Jackson779993
Huntington7761116
Montgomery7213123
Gibson7179118
Harrison7031100
Knox6958116
Steuben676589
Miami6675114
Whitley667260
Putnam651286
Clinton633179
Wabash6323111
Jasper622192
Jefferson5946105
Ripley565994
Adams547981
Daviess5124118
Scott498980
Wells4894106
White486069
Greene4749101
Clay468662
Decatur4659110
Fayette462597
Jennings457167
LaGrange432291
Posey412944
Randolph4010107
Washington393656
Fountain382264
Fulton368374
Spencer365147
Starke361474
Owen358577
Sullivan351155
Jay336450
Orange335272
Rush314833
Carroll301639
Franklin295244
Perry292853
Vermillion285958
Tipton253367
Parke251630
Pike251244
Blackford224944
Pulaski213759
Newton185052
Brown179750
Benton171717
Crawford170729
Martin152619
Switzerland149412
Warren137816
Union125116
Ohio92913
Unassigned0599

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events