Dirty Energy Fuels Climate Change Denier Ken Cuccinelli’s Campaign

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R)

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R)

In the first quarter of 2013, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) raised about $2.4 million for his gubernatorial campaign. Of that, a huge portion came from oil and gas interests — likely impressed by his long record of active climate denial.

A ThinkProgress review of data from the Virginia Public Access Project reveals that, by far, his largest donor in the period was the Republican Governors Association — a 527 political committee that works to aid Republican governors and gubernatorial candidates. While it is impossible to know the exact origin of the RGA’s $1 million contribution, the group receives a significant portion of its money from polluter interests.

In 2012, Koch Industries contributed more than $2 million, $800,000 from Devon Energy, and more than $639,000 from CONSOL Energy. According to a Center for Public Integrity investigation, oil and gas interests used the RGA to as a conduit for millions in donations in 2010, allowing them to circumvent campaign finance laws and invest heavily in electing candidates who supported fracking and other drilling expansion.

More directly, Cuccinelli accepted about $200,000 from energy companies and executives. These included:

1. Murray Energy Corporation, $50,000
2t. CONSOL Energy Inc., $25,000
2t. Dominion Political Action Committee (Dominion Resources, Inc.), $25,000
4t. Marvin Gilliam (retired VP of Cumberland Resources Corp.), $25,000
4t. Koch Industries Inc., $25,000
6t. American Electric Power Committee for Responsible Government (American Electric Power), $10,000
6t. William B. Holtzman (president and owner of Holtzman Oil), $10,000
6t. Range Resources Corporation, $10,000
9t. Thomas Farrell (CEO of Dominion Resources, Inc.), $5,000
9t. Michael G. Morris (President and CEO of American Electric Power), $5,000
9t. Baxter F. Phillips Jr. (an executive with Alpha Natural Resources, Inc.), $5,000
9t. Clyde E. Stacy (an executive with Pioneer Group/Rapoca Energy.), $5,000

Between these donations and the RGA’s funds, about half of Cuccinelli’s contributions over the reporting period were tied to oil, gas, and coal.

Their support is unsurprising given Cuccinelli’s record as Attorney General. As part of his efforts to cast doubt on climate-change science, he used his position to launch an inquisition against a former University of Virginia climate scientist. Citing possible “fraud against taxpayers,” Cuccinelli demanded the university provide him with a wide range of records relating Dr. Michael E. Mann’s grant applications.

A circuit judge and then the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the Attorney General was incorrect in believing he had the legal authority to undertake such a fishing expedition. When he blasted the ruling, newspapers blasted him for wasting Virginia tax dollars. He also failed in his federal lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas — a unanimous appeals court upheld the agency’s regulations as based on an “unambiguously correct” reading of the law.

Since his legal efforts for climate-change denial failed, he often relies on mockery, asking audiences to exhale carbon dioxide in unison, during his speeches, to annoy the EPA .

According to Greenpeace, he also worked with coal companies to roll back Virginia’s clean energy program. In the “energy” section of his campaign website, Cuccinelli says that we “need oil, natural gas, and coal to power our homes, cars, and economy and Virginia could be doing more to provide that to the world while growing job opportunities for our middle class.” To get that, he says, Virginia should safely take advantage of “all of the resources” it has on- and off-shore, “with as little government intervention as possible.”

6 Responses to Dirty Energy Fuels Climate Change Denier Ken Cuccinelli’s Campaign

  1. Citizen13 says:

    The Village Idiot (Cooch) actually gives Sen. Inhofe a run for his Money, in the “bought-and-paid-for-by-Koch” dept. Totally corrupt, completely owned by carbon fuel industries. Never misses a Koch retreat, like his sidekick, Gov. McDonnell.

  2. BillD says:

    Not sure why so many of the younger GOP “leaders”, including Jindal, Rubio and Cuccinelli, are such science deniers. Maybe they get their “climate science” from the Heartland Institute.

  3. Vine says:

    There should be an ethics rule in government that stops hidden payments being made by special interest groups. There should also be a political announcement on current affairs or news media they are a paid endorser of energy companies to let the public know their views ‘are not really’ independent. Enough of these shady PR scientists earning money without declaring their is a direct conflict of interest.

  4. Jack Wolf says:

    I can’t believe that at this stage, people can’t/won’t rely on science. But, when I can’t understand how people can act against their own self-interests, I remember the wise words of Mom: “Never forget that 50% of the population has below average intelligence”.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Your political system would be transformed if political donations were outlawed, all funds being public, and if lobbyists were reduced by 99% and strictly controlled in their activities. You may now laugh.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Many well below.