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Virginians for Clean Government wants answers about the gas royalties lawsuit.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
A group, including several Southwest Virginians and backed by billionaire Tom Steyer, has been formed to raise concerns about Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is running for governor.
The group, Virginians for Clean Government, met Wednesday in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University with Steyer, of San Francisco, who is co-founder of Advanced Energy Economy and backer of the NextGen Climate Action Committee. Three people were present from Southwest Virginia at the meeting, which included Steyer and others with NextGen.
The NextGen PAC has paid out more than $1.5 million in television ads this year and donated more than $400,000 worth of fees, media money and shipping costs to the campaign of gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat running against Republican Cuccinelli.
Group members say they want answers about the attorney general’s office’s apparent involvement in the ongoing gas royalties case between thousands of Southwest Virginia landowners and energy companies EQT Production and CONSOL Energy. The landowners are trying to gain access to more than $28 million being held in an escrow account.
Garren Shipley, communications director for the Republican Party of Virginia, said the group’s claims don’t hold water when they know the whole story.
“Ken Cuccinelli has been trying to fix these [problems with the gas royalties] his whole career,” Shipley said.
“Ken fights for the folks in Southwest Virginia,” Shipley said. “When people get the whole story, it’s really easy to see that.”
Group members said they plan to travel the state to talk about their concerns. Right now, the group is made up of a handful of people from Southwest Virginia, but its members said they hope to gain support throughout the state.
“This is not a Southwest Virginia issue, this is a Virginia issue,” said Matt Skeens of Coeburn . “This is a big issue in Southwest Virginia and I don’t think it’s being talked about enough.”
Steyer said his role with the group was to listen.
“I’m a business person but also interested in the idea of fairness,” he said. “This seems to be, on the face of it, outrageous.”
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