Who Funded Voter Suppression in Rural Virginia?

by James A. Bacon

It caused quite the brouhaha when Axios published a story in September on how a Democratic PAC posed as a conservative outfit to depress Republican voter turnout in Southwest Virginia by raising questions about Glenn Youngkin’s commitment to gun rights. Dominion Energy had donated $200,000 to the effort, run by Accountability Virginia PAC. Two days after the news broke Dominion said it had failed to vet the group and wanted its money back. The furor died down, and little has been heard of it since. Until today.

Duane Yancey with Cardinal News checked the final filings for the  Accountability Virginia PAC, which weren’t reported until after the election. It turns out that Dominion had donated a total of $250,000 — $50,000 more than originally reported — while four Dominion executives had chipped in another $27,500. Between the corporation and its executives, Dominion accounted for 47.9% of the PAC’s total contributions.

There is no indication, says Yancey, that they got their money back.

Almost all the other donors were out-of-state venture capitalists and financiers known to be donors to Democratic politics. Read Yancey’s list for the full accounting, as well as his spin on the news: “Trying to discourage people from voting is wrong, no matter which side is trying to do it.”

It is possible that the blowback against Dominion has just begun.

Democratic Senator Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Delegate Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, held a press conference today announcing that they would introduce bills banning regulated utility monopolies from donating to political campaigns.

“Virginians pay the price for Dominion Energy’s pay-to-play political influence. The monopoly has successfully lobbied for bills that cost customers nearly $1 billion in overcharges,” Petersen said in a press conference. “Both parties have a historic opportunity to do right by all Virginians and finally end this blatant corruption.”

Unhappiness with Dominion’s influence in politics is nothing new. Clean Virginia promised donations to any candidate who committed not to take any Dominion money, and dozens of candidates took up the offer. But Dominion spread the money around to both parties, and the public didn’t seem to care as long as the utility limited itself to buying influence in utility-related matters.

The Virginia Accountability episode smells very different. The PAC’s ad campaign targeted gun rights, not utility issues. The goal was to suppress voter turnout and help Terry McAuliffe win. This was partisan.

It’s possible that many Republican senators and delegates will be happy to continue taking Dominion money. But I would expect some to think twice — $275,500 is a lot of dough, even for Dominion. (According to the Virginia Public Access Project, the corporation, not including executives, contributed $8.5 million in 2020-21.)

Source: Virginia Public Access Project

Combine the Accountability Virginia gaffe with Dominion’s push to spend billions of dollars to build a zero-carbon electric grid. GOP legislators, you may recall, are inclined to believe climate change is hyped, that zero-carbon by 2050 is an arbitrary goal, and that consumers are getting the shaft. Now Dominion and its top executives are shoveling money to a partisan PAC?

Traditionally, Republicans have resisted caps on campaign donations. Now that Dominion appears to have chosen sides — the other side — don’t be surprised if that laissez-faire attitude changes.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


20 responses to “Who Funded Voter Suppression in Rural Virginia?”

  1. tmtfairfax Avatar

    There is no reason why out-of-state interests should be permitted to make campaign contributions in Virginia (or any other state, for that matter). I don’t see any reason to allow them to buy advertising in a state where they don’t reside. PACs should be abolished nationwide. No bundling.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Good idea! But, given the fact that the Republicans are soon to eliminate elections, unnecessary.

      1. tmtfairfax Avatar

        And how many Blue states have in effect some of the same laws that the Democrats and their media whores call “Jim Crow”? For example, Sloe Joe’s, aka Brandon, home state has strong restrictions on early voting and New Jersey doesn’t allow ballot harvesting. Even Jake Tapper found it to be too much. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2022/01/11/cnns_tapper_is_it_cynical_to_ask_why_democrats_dont_complain_about_strict_voting_rules_in_new_jersey_and_delaware.html See also, https://www.dailysignal.com/2021/04/08/how-georgias-voting-law-compares-to-7-blue-purple-states-laws/

        What did Biden do about early voting in Delaware when he was a Senator, Vice President or during his four-year retirement? One would think he would have lobbied for a fix earlier.

          1. James Kiser Avatar
            James Kiser

            NPR is a democratic party mouth piece.

          2. Nancy Naive Avatar
            Nancy Naive

            No hope for you, said in the voice of “No soup for you!”

          3. James McCarthy Avatar
            James McCarthy

            What does your absurd statement make Bacon’s Rebellion?

        1. James McCarthy Avatar
          James McCarthy

          Love the inapplicable moral equivalencies. What did Ronald Reagan do to advance early voting? So, there!

          1. Ronald Reagan didn’t do sh!t to advance early voting- but he also didn’t bitch about it or hypocritically accuse others of trying to ‘suppress the vote’.

            He’s also not in office any more. Joe Biden is the sitting president. Asking questions about his past statements and actions on an issue is perfectly legitimate.

      2. John Harvie Avatar
        John Harvie

        “But, given the fact that the Republicans are soon to eliminate elections, unnecessary.”

        Beneath what even I thought your level of intellect is…

    2. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      Go to the actual report, filter the contributions by date and it is clear the state corrections department health contractor was the instigator of all this. But Dominion’s first major check came very early, too. And then others were spread out over time, coming in even after the initial ads were running and the pernicious nature of the messaging was clear.


      Bob Blue, Ed Baine, Bill Murray and Carlos Brown were the four Dom execs who gave a combined $27,500 in personal money. If any of them get a single phone call returned in four years, shame on the Youngkin team. But the company also has loyal Republican lobbyists, R donors, who now become the face at the Capitol, and anger fades…

      1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
        Dick Hall-Sizemore

        The involvement of Armor Correctional Health Services in this activity is weird. The company did not provide medical services in any of the prisons in Southwest Virginia. Last summer, at the time of the donation, the company was in the middle of a feud with DOC. The agency was threatening to cancel the contract, worth multi-millions, over some nonperformance issues, primarily the failure to maintain contracted staffing levels. (DOC eventually did give notice and cancelled. Armor’s last day was in the middle of December.) The only reason that I can think of for Armor to be involved in the Accountability Virginia PAC would be an attempt to curry favor with the administration its fight with DOC. Obviously, it didn’t work.

        1. Stephen Haner Avatar
          Stephen Haner

          More to this story….I can smell it. This angle rivals Dominion’s.

    3. James McCarthy Avatar
      James McCarthy

      Y’all need to have a conversation with the Nine Supremes, especially the libertarians. They’ll show you the reasons!

  2. Misinformation at its finest…it ain’t Russia…

  3. John Harvie Avatar
    John Harvie

    From which pot did the $s come? Ratepayer? Shareholder?

  4. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Wait! So now we don’t like Citizens United?

    1. John Harvie Avatar
      John Harvie

      We finally agree on something. Wow…

      (Other than sailing)

  5. Misinformation at its finest…it ain’t Russia…

Leave a Reply