There are all sorts of slimy political campaigns. There are campaigns that try to scare folks into voting against a candidate. There are campaigns built on distortions and outright lies.
Perhaps the most repulsive campaigns are those that engage in subterfuge to try to discourage citizens from voting.
Voter suppression is profoundly undemocratic. Surely we can all agree about that.
Yet we learned this week that Dominion Power gave generously to a shadowy PAC that has exactly one purpose: to pretend that conservatives are unhappy with Glenn Youngkin’s stand on guns in an attempt to convince rural Virginians to stay home in November.
Virginians in the west and southwestern parts of the commonwealth tend to be enthusiastic supporters of the 2nd Amendment. So, it appears that a group of lefties formed the Accountability Virginia PAC to launch a social media and direct mail campaign using Democrats posing as conservatives to accuse Youngkin of being soft on gun rights.
They figured these voters would never go for McAuliffe, but they might be persuaded to sit out the election. Clever, I suppose, if these greasy charlatans were about to get away with it.
They didn’t, thanks to excellent reporting by Axios and The Richmond Times-Dispatch. That Axios investigative piece is headlined, “Dems Sneaky Sabotage.”
According to the TD, the PAC incorporated on July 1 and on the 28th Dominion donated $50,000. A week later, on August 4, the company gave another $50,000 and on September 15th, Dominion gave the PAC $75,000.
The TD reports there was a stop payment on the August 4th donation, but yet another Dominion cash dump of $75,000 on September 29th. The day after Axios published its investigation.
Explain THAT, Dominion.
Dominion may have given the PAC even more loot. The most recent campaign finance reporting period ended on September 30 and the company refused to respond to questions from the Richmond newspaper about any additional donations. Likewise, the McAuliffe campaign ignored questions about whether they’d coordinated with the PAC.
Did I mention that the sole purpose of the outfit appears to be to attack Youngkin with lies so conservatives will not vote?
Now that Dominion has been exposed, its CEO, Bob Blue — a former policy advisor to Democrat Mark Warner — is asking for a refund from the PAC.
“This weekend we were reminded that going above and beyond in transparency is necessary but not sufficient. Based on our own disclosures, two news stories highlighted activities of the Accountability Virginia PAC that we would not approve or knowingly support,” the CEO wrote.
“Although familiar with the Accountability Virginia PAC sponsors, we failed to vet sufficiently the scope of their intended activities. In as much, we have asked that our contributions be returned.
“As with any failure in terms of living up to our core values, we will learn from this and implement lessons learned going forward. We will not be giving to organizations of this nature in the future.”
Translation: Nuts! They caught us.
Imagine any business stroking checks of this size to a brand new PAC without knowing how the money would be used.
On the other hand, if Dominion really didn’t know about the chicanery afoot with these phony ads, its executives should all be fired.
According to The Times-Dispatch, the Youngkin campaign reacted angrily to the news:
The Youngkin campaign on Saturday issued a statement attacking Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe and Dominion. Youngkin himself unloaded on both Monday morning on WCHV radio in Charlottesville, referencing a recent finding by state regulatory staff that Dominion earned $1.1 billion above a fair profit over four years.
“I’m going to disrupt all of these entrenched interests in Richmond,” Youngkin said. Dominion wants “to keep Terry McAuliffe because they know they have somebody that they can manipulate. Terry is bought and sold by them. I’m going to stand up to Dominion Energy and say, ‘This is Virginians’ money.’ ”
And once again, we’re seeing the Republican candidate take on the mantle of the populist while the Democrat comfortably plops into the role of entrenched big-government fat cat.
There was a time when Virginia politics were serious, but fun. There were smart, likable and eccentric characters on both sides of the aisle.
With the arrival of Terry McAuliffe in 2013 (actually 2009) and his distasteful brand of New York and Clinton-style vulgarity, the fun disappeared and so did any ethics.
Virginia deserves better.