Republican lawmaker: Youngkin to back ban on Dominion campaign donations

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Republican state senator confirmed Wednesday that Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office told him the governor would sign legislation banning utilities like Dominion Energy from making political donations.

State Sen. Richard Stuart (R-King George) introduced a bill prohibiting any public service from making contributions to candidates or committees. Stuart confirmed a Richmond Times-Dispatch report in which he said he was told by the governor’s office that Youngkin supported this bill and one of state Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) and would sign them if they arrived at his office.

Peterson and Of the. R. Lee Ware (R-Powhatan) held a joint press conference last week to announce their bipartisan efforts to block public services from donating to political campaigns. During the press conference, Petersen reiterated his call for Youngkin to speak out on the matter.

“I hate to say it, but I really need Mr. Youngkin to step up and say it’s time to get Dominion money out of Virginia politics,” Petersen said in an interview with 8News a few days before.

Their legislation, which Petersen takes to the Virginia Senate and Ware takes to the House of Delegates, would prohibit utility companies from making contributions to state candidates, political action committees (PACs) and campaign committees.

A spokesperson for Youngkin who told 8News on Jan. 17 that “the governor will review all legislation that comes before him” declined to comment on Wednesday. Despite Youngkin’s support, the legislation must first pass through the General Assembly before reaching his desk.

Virginia’s two largest electric utilities, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power Company, have donated millions to candidates since 2010. While Appalachia has handed out more than $4.2 million sinceDominion is the state’s largest corporate political donor and has contributed more than $24 million during this period, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.

Dominion Energy did not make anyone available for an interview on Wednesday, but Rayhan Daudani, a spokesperson for the company, shared the same statement with 8News that he made on January 13: “Campaign finance laws should apply to everyone in the same way”.

Dominion Energy, the state’s largest regulated electric monopoly, has generally given Republicans and Democrats similar amounts of political donations over the years.

When he was a candidate, Youngkin said in a radio interview that he would stand up to Dominion Energy after the utility gave $200,000 to a secret PAC attacking the Republican during his gubernatorial campaign. Youngkin also said that he “disrupt all those entrenched interests in Richmond.”

Critics of corporate power in Virginia politics have questioned legislative changes that have blocked tariff reviews as prices for customers continued to rise. Invoices that would strengthened Dominion state surveillance and would have enabled customers to obtain surplus utility revenues were rejected by committees made up of Dominion-backed legislators.

Several bills introduced for the 2022 session seek to overhaul Virginia’s campaign finance laws, but similar efforts have failed to make it through the legislature for years.

The Commonwealth has no contribution limits for political action committees, corporations or individuals who donate to candidates. Virginia also allows party committees to donate unlimited amounts of money to campaigns.

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