Dominion Power is one of the biggest utility companies in the state of Virginia, so it’s understandable that the executives in charge of the energy giant might want to weigh in on the current race for governor. But while Democrat Terry McAuliffe vowed on the campaign trail not to accept any corporate cash from Dominion, it turns out the company is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get McAuliffe elected without donating directly to his campaign. Dominion has been funneling piles of cash to a Democrat dark money group that’s posing as a conservative outlet upset by Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin’s supposed squishiness on the Second Amendment.
The money from Dominion’s PAC went to Accountability Virginia PAC in Washington, according to a public filing this weekend by Dominion with the Virginia Department of Elections.
The political news outlet Axios reported in late September that the Accountability Virginia operation has ties to Democratic activists and is funding an ad campaign in which the Democrats pose as conservatives “to drive a wedge between the Republican candidate for Virginia governor and his core voters.”
The ads on Facebook, Instagram, Google and Snapchat target rural areas of the state that support Youngkin, and the ads question his commitment to the Second Amendment, Axios reported.
Dominion gave $200,000 between July and September to the PAC running the ads.
These ads aren’t meant to drive rural voters from Youngkin to McAuliffe. They’re designed to keep Republicans and conservatives at home on Election Day; to depress turnout in parts of the state where Youngkin is expected to win heavily in the hopes of helping McAuliffe eke out a victory.
Dominion spokesman Rayhan Daudani said by email: “There is nothing secretive about any of our company’s political donations. They 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.”
He declined to answer why the company preferred McAuliffe over Youngkin in the Executive Mansion. The election is Nov. 2, and early voting is ongoing.
The big issue here isn’t that Dominion is giving money to groups supporting Democrats, as well as directly donating to Democratic candidates themselves (though I’m guessing plenty of their customers aren’t happy about it). It’s the fact that Dominion is helping to fund misleading advertising designed to depress Republican turnout.
“Forty year politician Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic party are running scared, so they’ve done what all politicians do — call in their special interest cronies to dump obscene amounts of money into shadowy organizations in order to protect their entrenched interests,” Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said by email for this story. “Glenn Youngkin is winning on his message of being an outsider running against politics as usual, so it’s no surprise that desperation has set in for the ruling-class that sees their power slipping away.”
I’ve said before that I think Youngkin is playing it a little too safe on the campaign trail when it comes to Second Amendment issues, but if there are any Virginia gun owners who are still on the fence about showing up at the polls, let me remind you that Terry McAuliffe wants to impose a ban on so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines, has criticized the existence of gun shows, and has demonstrated far more interest in cracking down on legal gun owners than on violent criminals. I don’t think Glenn Youngkin is the perfect candidate, but he’s a much better pick for Second Amendment activists in Virginia than either voting for Terry McAuliffe or simply staying home.
The gun control lobby wins when gun owners don’t vote, and that’s exactly what Democrats are hoping to accomplish with these shady ads. I hope that Virginia gun owners will spread the word about Dominion’s dishonest attempt to depress our turnout on Election Day. It would be great if, instead of keeping gun owners at home, the outing of the groups behind these misleading ads got Second Amendment advocates so fired up that they flocked to the polls instead.