Fri, Aug 5, 2022 4:30 PM
By By Tyler Arnold | The Center Square, The Center Square
(The Center Square) – Since 2020, the public electric utility Dominion Energy donated nearly $2.9 million to Virginia state-level Democratic candidates and more than $2 million to state-level Republican candidates, totaling nearly $4.9 million in funding.
Many states prohibit public utilities from donating to political campaigns because they exist as state-enforced monopolies and lawmakers ultimately determine their profitability. Although there has been some push in the General Assembly to prohibit Dominion from influencing elections from both major parties, those bills have fallen flat in committees in recent years.
Dominion donates to Republicans and Democrats, but faced further scrutiny after it donated $200,000 to the Accountability Virginia PAC, which ran advertisements against then-candidate and now Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Dominion later asked for its money back and claimed it did not properly vet the PAC.
Aaron Ruby, a spokesperson for Dominion, told The Center Square that its donations help give a voice to its employees and customers.
“Dominion Energy’s political contributions are fully transparent and bipartisan, and ensure that our employees and customers have a voice in the political process,” Ruby said.
From 2020 until now, the largest recipient of Dominion funds for candidates in the General Assembly was Del. Luke Torian, D-Dumfries, who chaired the House Appropriations Committee until Democrats lost control of the chamber in 2022, according to the Virginia Public Access Project’s compilation of donation information.
Over the past two and a half years, Torian received $390,000 from Dominion. Other state-level candidates to receive big checks from Dominion during that timeframe include House Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring, D-Alexandria, who received $235,000, and Senate Rules Committee Chair Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and president pro tempore of the Senate L. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, who received $210,000 each.
Since 2020, 13 House and Senate candidates have received more than $100,000 in donations from Dominion. So far in 2022, 11 candidates have received $25,000 or more with the largest amount of $50,000 going to Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax.
Earlier this year, Sens. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Richard Stuart, R-Montross, introduced bills that would have prohibited Dominion from contributing to political campaigns, but neither made it out of committee. Neither senator responded to a request for comment from The Center Square.