Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.
Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, which has been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin.
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Dominion provided four cash infusions for Accountability Virginia totaling $250,000 from July through September, according to a quarterly financial report filed this month. It recalled one $50,000 payment in August.
It's the most the company has given to any statewide political committee in Virginia this year, according to disclosures on its website.
What they're saying: "Our company's political donations are disclosed monthly on the company website. We give in a bipartisan, transparent manner as our voluntary disclosures demonstrate and will continue to do so," Dominion spokesperson Rayhan Daudani said in an emailed statement.
Why it matters: Dominion's support for Accountability Virginia provides an avenue for the utility, historically one of the state's largest political donors, to back McAuliffe's candidacy even as the former governor himself refuses its financial support.
McAuliffe has said from the outset of the 2021 race that he would not accept Dominion contributions, a pledge he also made during his unsuccessful 2009 gubernatorial run.
Hala Ayala, the Democratic nominee for Virginia lieutenant governor, also swore off Dominion support this year, but later accepted six-figure sums from the company. "People change their minds all the time," she said of the shift.
Between the lines: Accountability Virginia PAC's messaging and tactics have nothing to do with energy or environmental policy, or even the general business climate in the state.
Instead, the group has run social media ads questioning Youngkin's commitment to gun rights.
The ads have largely targeted western Virginia, where Republicans are most heavily concentrated.
Despite hitting Youngkin from the right, all indications point to Democrats being behind the group.