by James A. Bacon
More blue on blue: Hedge-fund manager Michael Bills, the money meister behind Clean Virginia, worked behind the scenes to oppose the elevation of Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax Station, to Speaker of the House. So alleged Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, in an interview on the John Fredericks radio show last week.
“I had heard that they or they representatives had made phone calls to get people to vote against Eileen,” Saslaw said. “You know, quite frankly, you’re getting awfully close to that quid pro quo line when you’re doing stuff like that. I don’t take, nor does our caucus… we don’t take any contributions that come with any conditions. To me, you’re getting into dangerous territory when you accept a deal like that.”
Bills and wife Sonjia Smith spent nearly $2 million in donations that came from them personally or funneled through Clean Virginia to candidates who pledged not to take contributions from Dominion Energy.
The story, if true, suggests that a schism exists between the establishment wing of Virginia’s Democratic Party and the militant environmentalist wing of the party. Militant environmentalists deem Dominion Energy to be a fount of political corruption and, due to the utility’s continued advocacy of natural gas, an impediment to the goal of achieving a 100% renewable electric grid. However, as long as Dominion can patch together a coalition of Republican and pragmatic Democratic lawmakers, it will likely continue to prevail in the General Assembly.
Clean Virginia denied that it lobbied against Filler-Corn, reports the Washington Free Beacon. “Dominion Energy advertises heavily on the John Fredericks Show, and it is all-too-common to hear blatant lies about our work on the broadcast,” said Clean Virginia Executive Director Brennan Gilmore in a statement. “The allegation that our board chair Michael Bills was calling to lobby against Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s leadership bid is yet another one of these falsehoods.”
However, according to the Washington Free Beacon, Sen. Joe Morrissey said that he had spoken to multiple members of the Democratic caucus whom Bills had contacted to oppose Filler-Corn.
Whatever the truth of the matter, it sounds like there are plenty of hard feelings. The incident reflects a fundamental divide in the Democratic Party of Virginia.
So far, Virginia’s establishment media has yet to pick up the story — perhaps the press doesn’t consider the John Fredericks Show to be a legitimate source of news. Sounds like an important political story to me. Mainstream reporters need to get out of their bubble.There are currently no comments highlighted.