Media Ignore VA Attorney General's Conflict Of Interest In Energy Proposal
Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli proposed an agreement with power companies that would repeal state incentives for clean energy programs and save the companies money, but the Associated Press and the Richmond Times-Dispatch failed to note that Cuccinelli, who is running for governor in 2013, recently received major contributions from Dominion Power, Koch Industries, and other companies that could directly or indirectly profit from the proposed agreement.
From the Times-Dispatch:
Customers of Virginia's two big electric power companies likely will save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 12 years under an agreement worked out between the state Attorney General's Office and the utilities.
The proposal would repeal the state's bonuses for renewable energy programs and building fossil-fuel power plants. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a report in November that the bonuses have not produced intended environmental gains or encouraged power plant construction.
The article noted that the proposal would "reduce Dominion Virginia Power's revenue requirements by $38.5 million," and provide the following benefits to the power companies:
• expanding the financial performance limits defining when the companies "overearn" or "underearn" compared with their state-authorized rate of return; and
• allowing utilities to recover the costs of catastrophic natural events and early power plant closings, because of new environmental rules or factors beyond the companies' control, during the biennial review period they occur for financial reporting purposes.
A Dominion Power statement called the proposal "another step forward for Dominion Virginia Power's customers."
Neither the Times-Dispatch nor the Associated Press mentioned that Cuccinelli has recently received $10,000 in campaign contributions from Dominion Power's political action committee and another $50,000 from the Koch brothers, who are deeply invested in the oil and gas industry. Other large contributions from the fossil fuel industry have been recorded, including Alpha Natural Resources, a coal company notorious for its dangerously poor safety record.
From the Huffington Post (emphasis added):
One contribution of note is the $50,000 given by Intrust Wealth Management, one of many corporations under the control of the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers. The company is a subsidiary of Intrust Bank, headed by Charles Koch. This is the second Koch contribution to Cuccinelli, who received $10,000 from Koch Industries in the first half of 2012.
Other large contributions came from Alpha Natural Resources ($10,000), Paul Atkins ($10,000), Thomas Brock ($10,000), Conservative Victory Committee ($15,000), Consol Energy ($25,000), Walter Morgan Curt ($10,000), Dominion PAC ($10,000), Stewart Hall ($10,000), Hilton Worldwide ($15,000), James Leininger ($10,000), Service Distributing Inc. ($10,000) and Verizon Good Government Club of Virginia ($25,000).
Cuccinelli's acceptance of major financial contributions from the companies he's in charge of regulating is an outstanding conflict of interest -- silence on the issue is a major failure by media organizations that owe their readers more comprehensive reporting.