If you’re a gun owner living in Virginia, it appears your power company does not want you to turn out to vote.
The political action committee for Dominion Energy, one of the largest power providers in the state, is a major funder of a shadowy group buying pro-gun ads against Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin. The power company gave $200,000 to the Accountability Virginia PAC, according to disclosures released this month.
Accountability Virginia has been running tens of thousands of dollars worth of attack ads aimed at Youngkin’s gun record. The ads criticize the Republican for not obtaining the endorsements of prominent gun-rights groups, including the NRA and Virginia Citizens Defense League. The group has specifically targeted Republican areas of the state.
However, the group only sprung up in July and is run by a liberal consulting group that processes donations through the biggest liberal funding operation in the country. While it attacks Youngkin from the right on guns, it has not done the same to Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe even though he is much further to the left on the issue.
Rather than a straightforward campaign supporting gun rights, the effort appears intended to suppress gun voters and help McAuliffe win the tight race to become governor.
The latest polling shows the race between Youngkin and McAuliffe closer than ever, with one Republican-leaning pollster showing Youngkin up for the first time in the race. If the ads convince some gun owners not to turn out on election day, it could sway the outcome of the close election. That would provide a significant win for Democrats in a bellwether race even as President Joe Biden’s approval rating falters.
The roundabout effort to influence the election by Dominion appears to be the result of McAuliffe disavowing donations from the energy giant. Dominion donated $75,000 directly to McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign and another $50,000 to his inaugural committee. The Democrat swore off the company after that, but it has apparently not sworn off helping him by whatever means necessary.
Neither Dominion Energy nor Accountability Virginia responded to a request for comment. However, Dominion told Axios, who first reported on its donations, it operates transparently.
“Our company’s political donations are disclosed monthly on the company website,” Rayhan Daudani, a Dominion spokesperson, said. “We give in a bipartisan, transparent manner as our voluntary disclosures demonstrate and will continue to do so.”
Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter accused McAuliffe of calling in Dominion to help shore up his campaign.
“40-year politician Terry McAuliffe is running scared, so he’s done what politicians do: call in their special interest cronies to dump obscene amounts of money into shadowy organizations that play dirty tricks in order to protect their entrenched interests,” she said in a statement. “McAuliffe must answer why he asked Dominion for a quarter million dollars to spend against Glenn Youngkin instead of asking Dominion why they’ve increased energy prices on Virginians at an alarming rate. As the cost of living continues to skyrocket, Terry McAuliffe doesn’t stand with Virginians, he stands with special interests who bankroll false attacks against Glenn.”
McAuliffe’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Election day is November 2nd.
UPDATE 10/17/2021 9:45 AM: This piece has been updated to include comment from the Youngkin campaign.