Virginia has been under some amount of Democratic control at the state level since 2014, when Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the gubernatorial election.
The 2021 election cycle has been no different than past odd-numbered years with voters and political action committees (PACs) writing checks to their preferred candidates, in hopes of victory. With the June primary in the rearview and November elections on the horizon, PACs are active on both sides of the aisle. This cycle has seen over $65 million in contributions to PACs and $51 million in expenditures so far.
“I am using the wealth I have gained in the four decades since I graduated from Hampton High School to fund Clean Virginia and its affiliated PAC in the hopes that we can collectively build a more equitable system of government that puts the interests of Virginians above those of monopoly utilities,” says Bills—the founder, funder, and board chair of Clean Virginia—on their website.
The Clean Virginia Fund purpose is to “advance clean government and clean energy by fighting utility monopoly corruption in Virginia politics.” The committee works toward this end through three main avenues: public information, legislative resources, and campaign finance.
On their website, Clean Virginia outlines their reasoning for targeting this “utility monopoly corruption” in the state. According to them, the utility companies Dominion and Appalachian Power (APCO) handle 81 percent of Virginians’ power and also wield a hefty amount of political influence. Clean Virginia believes that since Dominion and APCO financially support a variety of candidates on both sides of the aisle, they are also able to “write the rules that govern [Virginians’] energy.”
In line with this, the organization believes that Virginia has “some of the weakest campaign finance laws in the country” and these corporations’ ability to yield such influence via financial support is an advantage they should not have. Dominion Energy happens to be the third highest donor in the state so far this cycle.
Not only do they work toward “strengthening” campaign finance laws in Virginia, as a PAC, they also contribute to candidates they feel support their interests. Of the $3.9 million dollars the PAC has brought in, $1.5 million has been spent on Democratic candidates in the state. Democratic candidate for Governor Jennifer Carroll Foy received $600,000 before losing the primary to Terry McAuliffe.
Our Spotlight series highlights individual candidates, donors and PACs in state-level politics. Subscribe to be informed when the latest campaign finance data ahead of Virginia’s battleground races this fall.