A majority of Democrats running for Congress this year in Virginia — 21 as of Tuesday — have agreed to a pledge not to take campaign money from Dominion Energy or Appalachian Power Co.

In addition, six other Democratic candidates have publicly pledged not to take money from Dominion or not to take corporate PAC money, according to Activate Virginia, the group that coordinated the pledge.

It coincides with a national effort to persuade politicians to stop taking money from the fossil fuel industry. Last year, two candidates for lieutenant governor and 74 candidates for House of Delegates took the pledge, 13 of whom were elected.

“The point of the pledge is to change the political culture at least within the Democratic Party, hopefully broadly, such that candidates for office understand that (fossil fuel) interests go against the principles of the party,” said Josh Stanfield, executive director of Activate Virginia.

David Botkins, a Dominion Energy spokesman, said in an email: “Dominion Energy does not make contributions to federal candidates. Contributions to congressional candidates are made through either the employee PAC or by individual employees.”

Dominion’s PAC gave $212,500 to federal candidates in the newest campaign cycle, according to Open Secrets, a website of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign donations.

By agreeing to the Activate Virginia pledge, federal candidates are refusing such a donation.

In District 7, which includes parts of Henrico and Chesterfield counties, three of four Democrats seeking the nomination in a June primary to challenge GOP Rep. Dave Brat have agreed to the pledge: Helen Alli, Diane Fraser and Dan Ward.

Abigail Spanberger, also running in the primary, will not take any corporate PAC money, so that would include Dominion and Appalachian Power, a spokeswoman said.

Jennifer Lewis, vice chairwoman of the Waynesboro Democratic Party, will formally announce Friday that she’s running in the 6th Congressional District — the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte.

She is among the candidates who will not take money from the regulated energy utilities and who will decline all corporate campaign money. Lewis founded Friends of Augusta, a group that opposes the two natural gas pipelines whose planned paths include Virginia.

Lewis said she decided to run for office because volunteering and activism do not get results when leadership beholden to corporate money remains in place. She brought up former Gov. Terry McAuliffe as an example.

“The perception of how it looks to an outside person when you have a governor and he’s taking money from Dominion and then he’s pro-pipeline,” she said. “When you take people’s money, it gives people the perception that that’s going to change your view — that’s going to change your vote on things.”

Receive daily news emails sent directly to your email inbox

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.