Political persuasion

New list highlights lobbyist spending in Va.

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Print this page by Michael O’Connor

Dominion Energy’s lobbying efforts cost almost twice as much as any other group lobbying Virginia’s General Assembly over a 12-month period.

The energy company paid $1.1 million for lobbyist compensation and expenditures made on its behalf, according to the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Council. The lobbying expense figure is for the fiscal year that ended April 30, 2018.

Dominion’s political spending has come under increased scrutiny. Some Virginia Democrats have pledged not to accept campaign contributions from state-regulated monopolies such as Dominion. A Charlottesville investor is funding a group called Clean Virginia that is trying to push back against Dominion’s influence on Virginia politics. 

Dominion says last year’s lobbying efforts were higher than usual because of efforts tied to the Grid Transformation & Security Act of 2018. The law changed how Virginia’s monopoly utility companies are allowed to spend revenues that come from customers. Regarding critics of the size of Dominion’s lobbying efforts, company spokesman, Rayhan Daudani, says, “We will participate in the political process as we see fit in the future to benefit our customers, the environment and the commonwealth.”

The next highest tally on the lobbying list was $573,603 spent by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group. It recently backed bills in the legislature related to driver’s license suspension reform and expanding the use of telemedicine. The group opposed Medicaid expansion in Virginia, which took effect in January as the result of a legislative budget compromise last year.

Further down the lobbying list is the Omega Protein Corp., a large fish processor in Reedville. Its lobbying costs totaled $109,948. Last year, Omega Protein opposed a bill in the General Assembly that would have put a cap on Virginia’s menhaden catch. Environmentalists supported the bill. Menhaden are fish used for making fish oil and fish meal.

In the wild they are consumed by striped bass, whales and dolphins.

The ranks of Virginia’s top law firms, based on their number of Virginia lawyers, saw little change in the past year.

McGuireWoods was again No. 1 with 302 Virginia lawyers. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP was second with 200 lawyers in the commonwealth.

Hunton Andrews Kurth is the result of the recent merger between Hunton Williams — also last year’s second-ranked law firm — and the Texas firm Andrews Kurth Kenyon.

The list of the commonwealth’s largest accounting firms also remained relatively unchanged. Ernst & Young LLP again led the list with a total of 682 CPAs in Virginia.

Professional services charts: 

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