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, $50,0002t. CONSOL Energy Inc., $25,0002t. Dominion Political Action Committee (Dominion Resources, Inc.), $25,0004t. Marvin Gilliam (retired VP of Cumberland Resources Corp.), $25,0004t. Koch Industries Inc., $25,0006t. American Electric Power Committee for Responsible Government (American Electric Power), $10,0006t. William B. Holtzman (president and owner of Holtzman Oil), $10,0006t. Range Resources Corporation, $10,0009t. Thomas Farrell (CEO of Dominion Resources, Inc.), $5,0009t. Michael G. Morris (President and CEO of American Electric Power), $5,0009t. Baxter F. Phillips Jr. (an executive with Alpha Natural Resources, Inc.), $5,0009t. 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.
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.”