Dominion Energy would like everyone to know that they had no idea what Virginia Accountability PAC was up to when it gave the shadow PAC $200,000.
On Monday, CEO Robert Blue told employees that the company didn’t know the PAC was planning to disingenuously attack Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin. He said the company did not approve of the PAC, run by a liberal consulting group, running attack ads against Youngkin in Republican-leaning areas for not seeking endorsements from the NRA or Virginia Citizens Defense League.
“Based on our own disclosures, two news stories highlighted activities of the Accountability Virginia PAC that we would not approve or knowingly support,” he said in an email. “Although familiar with the Accountability Virginia PAC sponsors, we failed to vet sufficiently the scope of their intended activities.”
That’s right. We’re supposed to believe the company slipped, fell, and deposited $200,000 in a shadow PAC whose only purpose appears to be running disingenuous gun ads against Youngkin. If Blue is to be believed, the company was taken in by the liberal consulting firm Mele, Brengarth, & Associates, who created and run the group. The utility was a mere babe in the woods.
That all seems like quite a stretch to me, in case it wasn’t already obvious.
Virginia Accountability was founded in July 2021, after all. It’s not believable that Dominion managed to both find them and give them six figures despite knowing absolutely nothing about what they planned to do with the money. It is far more likely that the consulting firm came to them with a plan to influence the election precisely the underhanded way they did and convinced them to be its primary funder.
But why go about trying to influence the election in such a convoluted way that’s likely to create backlash if found out?
Well, they clearly want Youngkin’s opponent Democrat Terry McAuliffe to win the election. The problem is McAuliffe has sworn off donations from the energy giant. This scheme appears to be the brilliant workaround for that hurdle.
That’s sleazy, though not unprecedented. It’s also exactly the combination in politics that repulses many people. Nobody likes the idea of being manipulated, especially by a utility they can’t even cancel service from if they want to.
The alternative that Blue wants everyone to believe, that the consulting firm asked Dominion for hundreds of thousands of dollars and the company just gave it to them without asking what the heck it’d be used for, isn’t much more flattering. In that case, they look more stupid than underhanded. I’m not sure how comforting that is to Virginia gun owners or the company’s stockholders.
I doubt that Blue’s demand that Virginia Accountability return the company’s donations will comfort them either. Nor do I think many will believe that demand or the subsequent promise not to do it again is anything more than disingenuous.