IG: VA Guv Candidate Ken Cuccinelli Lied
Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general and the Republican candidate for governor in a tight race against Democrat Terry McAuliffe, has been dogged by scandal, including questions about campaign contributions. The press had been looking into Cuccinelli’s ties to one Johnnie Williams, but this morning Cuccinelli faces questions about lying in another probe:
The senior assistant under Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) “inappropriately used Commonwealth resources” to help energy companies, including a top Cuccinelli donor, according to a report by Virginia’s inspector general. The investigation found that, contrary to Cuccinelli’s claims, she acted “beyond the scope of her authority and position.”
A Pulitzer-Prize-winning 2009 series by Daniel Gilbert in the Bristol Herald Courier detailed the problems with the system used in Virginia to determine who gets royalties from coalbed methane gas collected from the coal mined under their property. With little oversight, energy companies have underpaid the amounts of royalties they to southwestern Virginia landowners. The big coal companies, despite not having the gas rights, regularly dispute their ownership in hopes of forcing the landowners to agree to a 50-50 split on the royalties. Many of these landowners cannot afford the costly legal process needed to establish ownership in court and access the escrow funds — if they even know they are entitled to it.
Consol Energy, the Canonsburg, PA-based parent company of CNX Gas Co. (one of the two biggest companies active in the coalbed methane extraction in southwest Virginia) has given Cuccinelli — a climate change denier who has regularly sided with the industry — more than $143,500 in campaign contributions.