Dominion Energy Virginia has increased its donations to Virginia state politicians six-fold in just four years. The other major donors in the energy regulation arena, Clean Virginia Fund and its founder, have done much the same. They are donating five times more in the 2023 election cycle than they did in the similar 2019 cycle.
The two political behemoths have donated about $23 million between them, compared to about $4 million four years ago. The totals really won’t be known until the final reports are due after Tuesday’s election.
Virginia’s election laws are so porous, the real spending won’t be clear even then. Here in the last weekend another round of mailings in favor of various candidates has appeared from an advocacy group called Power for Tomorrow. It sent similar mailings out just before the June primary.
Reporting at that time noted that Dominion had provided funding for Power for Tomorrow, which basically is praising candidates who had voted for Dominion’s 2023 regulatory bill. There is every reason to believe it is acting at Dominion’s behest, and no question these mailers are intended to promote the candidates.
No data on who received them or what they cost, for either the primary or general election mailers, can be found at Virginia Public Access Project. The text does not actually say to vote for the candidate in focus, which may be the claimed loophole.
The mailer that appeared in Henrico County mailboxes praising Senator Siobahn Dunnavant used exactly the same talking points that Dominion has used through the year to describe that bill, which had its good and bad points. The mailer appeared just one day after the State Corporation Commission implemented part of that bill, allowing Dominion to convert two years of unpaid fuel bills into a bond, and then make its ratepayers pay off the bond over 7 years. Continue reading