Dominion Energy’s political action committee contributed more than $31,000 to state lawmakers in the final six months of 2017, most of it within 10 days of an override vote on Senate Bill 16.
That measure, “Business Regulatory Reform Act of 2017,”  contained a key provision for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The omnibus bill allows out-of-state companies, like Virginia-based Dominion, to use eminent domain to secure land to build pipelines.
Sponsored by Senators Andy Wells, Tamara Barringer and Warren Daniel, the bill included other controversial proposals relaxing regulations on landfills and mining
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed SB 16 on Aug. 14. On Sept. 25, Dominion spread $18,300 among 21 lawmakers, plus Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who would have voted had there been a tie. And on Oct. 5, both chambers overrode the veto without the need for Forest’s vote.
The figures were released as part of the required year-end campaign finance reports,  due last Friday.
This degree of corporate largesse is not unusual, and lawmakers consistently claim their votes are not influenced by campaign contributions. However, for a non-election year, many legislators on environmental committees raised significant sums.
Other than House and Senate leadership, Dominion contributed most of its money to lawmakers on key environmental committees. Dominion, though, is not the only corporate interest throwing money at legislators.
Duke Energy did not contribute in the last half of the year, but PSNC, the gas company it owns, did: $31,000 of its total $47,000 went to legislators on relevant committees, including House and Senate leadership.
McGuireWoods, a Virginia-based law firm, represents the interests of many companies, including Smithfield and Dominion. It anted up $92,000 in contributions.
The North Carolina Pork Council reliably gives; the powerful interest group delivered 70 percent of its $49,500 to environmental committee members, plus a total of $10,000 to the House and Senate Republican caucuses. And clean energy, trying to ensure the passage of House Bill 589, the solar legislation, also chipped in: $17,700.
The billboard industry also gave a small amount — less than $5,000. Their legislation, which would have provided for the clear-cutting of trees to make their outdoor advertisements more visible, died on the House floor after sputtering out of committees.
Policy Watch analyzed campaign finance reports from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2017, for legislators who serve on key committees related to the environment and agriculture.
Here are the top-grossing lawmakers who served on any of these committees: Appropriations Agriculture and Natural Resources, Environmental Review Commission, Environment, and Energy Policy and Utilities and related joint committees.
|House Democrats||House Republicans|
|Ken Goodman $50,650
Duane Hall $44,545
Michael Wray $32,437
|Greg Murphy $188,096
John Bell $104,62
Chris Malone $50,000
|Senate Democrats||Senate Republicans|
|Jay Chaudhuri $62,131
Jeff Jackson $45,047
|Brent Jackson $290,998
Bill Rabon $230,825
Mike Lee $88,381
The motives of the contributors aren’t always clear from the campaign finance reports. For example, Glover Construction gave $3,000 to Democrat Michael Wray, who represents Halifax and Northampton counties. Glover is headquartered in Northampton County, yes, but it also contracts with Duke Energy to build lined coal ash basins. In Garysburg last year, Glover representatives spoke in support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline; the company could be contracted to work on that project.
John Droz, who lists himself as a scientist but has made his money in real estate, gave just $100 to Republican George Cleveland of Onslow County. A small amount, but it came from a climate change denier who unofficially lobbies lawmakers to oppose wind power; several years ago, Cleveland was among lawmakers who invited Droz to the General Assembly to give a presentation on his doubts about climate change.
Below are tables showing lawmakers, their relevant committees and amounts raised by sector. Agriculture includes individual farmers, as well as the Farm Bureau, Monsanto and the Pork Council. Oil, gas and energy includes Dominion, PSNC and the solar industry. Engineers, architects, construction companies, Realtors and developers — and attorneys specializing in that sector — are counted in real estate. Environmental business interests encompass waste management and similar sectors. Environmental advocates are nonprofits or their members.
These tables also include lawmakers who had not filed their reports as of Jan. 29; they were due Jan. 26.
|Member||County||Committees||Total raised||Ag/forestry||Oil/gas/energy||Real estate/development and related industries||Environment (industry)||Environment (advocates)|
|John Alexander||Wake||Ag/Enviro/Natural Resources||$2,850|
|Dan Bishop||Mecklenburg||River Quality, Jt Energy Policy, Environmental Review Commission||$74,150||$250||$11,125|
|Earl Britt Jr||Columbus, Robeson||AENR||NOT FILED|
|Bill Cook||Beaufort, Camden, Hyde, Pasquotank, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Perquimans||AENR, ANER Approps, Ag Resources Oversight, ERC||$1,048||$1,000|
|Cathy Dunn||Davidson, Montgomery||AENR||$0|
|Rick Gunn||Alamance, Randolph||ANER Appropriations||$15,250||$3,500||$2,750||$500|
|Frank Iler||Brunswick||Appropriations, Environment, River Quality, ERC||$37,207||$500||$12,800|
|Brent Jackson||Duplin, Johnston, Sampson||AENR, River Quality, ERC, Ag Resources Oversight||$290,998||$135,500||$9,150||$14,350||$10,400|
|Mike Lee||New Hanover||River Quality||$88,381||$2,500||$44,150||$1,000|
|Tom McInnis||Anson, Richond, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly||AENR||$71,068||$10,400||$6,950|
|Paul Newton||Cabarrus, Union||AENR, ANER Approps, River Quality, Jt Energy Policy||NOT FILED|
|Bill Rabon*||Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender||River Quality||$230,825||9250||1650||23700||1000|
|Ron Rabin||Harnett, Johnston, Lee||AENR||0|
|Norman Sanderson||Carteret, Craven Pamlico||AENR, River Quality, Ag Resources Oversight, ERC||$2,250||$1,000|
|Jeff Tarte||Mecklenburg||Jt Energy Policy||NOT FILED|
|Jerry Tillman||Moore, Randolph||Jt Energy Policy||NOT FILED|
|Trudy Wade||Guilford||AENR, ANER Approps, River Quality, ERC, Ag Resources Oversight||NOT FILED|
|Andy Wells||Alexander, Catawba||AENR, River Quality, ERC, Ag Resources Oversight||$51,950||$1,100||$9,100||$2,000|
|Member||County||Committees||Total contributions||Agriculture, forestry||Oil, gas, energy||Real estate/development related industries||Environment (industry)||Environment (advocates)|
|Angela Bryant||Halifax, Nash, Vance, Warren, Wilson||AENR, ANER Approps, River Quality, ERC||$1,615.00|
|Ben Clark||Cumberland, Hoke||ANER Appropriations||$1,654.00|
|Erica Smith||Bertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, Tyrrell, Washington||AENR, River Quality, ERC||$7,040.00||$1,250.00|
|Joyce Waddell||Mecklenburg||AENR, Jt Energy Policy||$50.00|
|Mike Woodard||Durham, Person, Caswell||AENR||NOT FILED|
|Member||Counties||Committees||Total contributions||Ag/forestry||Oil, gas, energy||Real estate/development and related industries||Environment (industry)||Environment (advocates)||Billboards|
|Dean Arp||Union||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$25,250.00||$500.00||$3,000.00||$10,600.00|
|John Bell||Craven, Greene, Lenoir and Wayne||Ag, Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$104,622.00||$13,000.00||$3,850.00||$13,150.00||$3,000.00|
|Hugh Blackwell||Burke||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||NOT FILED|
|Beverly Boswell||Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Washington||Ag, Appropriations||$5,200.00|
|John Bradford||Mecklenburg||Environment, Energy and Public Utilities||$11,350.00||$3,750.00||$1,100.00|
|Mark Brody||Anson, Union||Ag, Appropriations||$7,475.00||$3,000.00||$500.00|
|Dana Bumgardner||Gaston||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$21,403.00||$1,750.00||$1,400.00|
|George Cleveland||Onslow||Ag, Appropriations||$1,400.00||$100.00||$200.00|
|Jimmy Dixon||Duplin, Wayne||Ag, Appropriations, ANER Approps, Environment, River Quality, ERC, Jt Energy Policy, Jt ANER Oversight||$27,100.00||$24,050.00||$100.00|
|Jeff Collins||Franklin, Nash||Environment, Energy & Public Utilities||$-|
|Jeffrey Elmore||Alleghany, Wilkes||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$1,350.00||$250.00||$250.00|
|Holly Grange||New Hanover||Appropriations, River Quality, ERC||$49,270.00||$600.00||$2,800.00||$5,350.00|
|Kelly Hastings||Cleveland, Gaston||Energy & Public Utilities||$19,163.00||$1,200.00||$1,850.00|
|Bert Jones||Caswell, Rockingham||Agriculture||$3,980.00|
|Brenden Jones||Bladen, Columbus, Robeson||Ag, Appropriations||NOT FILED|
|David Lewis||Harnett||Ag, Appropriations||NOT FILED|
|Chris Malone||Wake||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$50,000.00||$3,000.00||$5,000.00||$250.00|
|Susan Martin||Pitt, Wilson||Ag, Energy & Public Utils||$2,600.00|
|Chuck McGrady||Henderson||Environment, Appropriations, River Quality, ERC, Jt Oversight ANER||$42,175.00||$2,175.00||$2,225.00||$2,800.00||$325.00|
|Greg Murphy||Pitt||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$188,096.00||$1,500.00||$1,750.00||$6,800.00|
|Dennis Riddell||Alamance||Ag, Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$11,595.00||$850.00||$100.00||$500.00|
|David Rogers||Burke, Rutherford||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||NOT FILED|
|John Sauls||Harnett, Lee||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||NOT FILED|
|Bob Steinburg||Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell||Ag, Enviro, River Quality, ERC||$25,639.00||$3,750.00||$750.00||$2,325.00||$5,000.00|
|Larry Strickland||Johnston||Ag, Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities, Environment||$11,150.00||$1,600.00||$500.00||$500.00|
|Rena Turner||Iredell||Ag, Appropriations||$400.00|
|Sam Watford||Davidson||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities, Jt Oversight, Ag, Nat & Econ Resources Jt Commission Energy Policy||$7,850.00||$300.00||$1,250.00|
|Lee Zachary||Alexander, Wilkes, Yadkin||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$500.00||$500.00|
|Member||Counties||Committees||Total contributions||Agriculture, forestry||Oil, gas, energy||Real estate/development and related industries||Environment (industry)||Environment (advocates)|
|Kelly Alexander||Mecklenburg||Energy & Public Utilities||NOT FILED|
|John Autry||Mecklenburg||Appropriations, Environment||$2,969.00||$500.00||$40.00|
|John Ager||Buncombe||Ag, Appropriations, Approps Ag, Nat, Econ Resources||$4,261.00|
|Larry Bell||Duplin, Sampson, Wayne||Ag, Appropriations||$225.00|
|Cecil Brockman||Guilford||Ag, Appropriations, Environment||NOT FILED|
|Carla Cunningham||Mecklenburg||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$7,765.00||$500.00||$1,050.00||$40.00|
|Beverly Earle||Mecklenburg||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$1,101.00||$500.00|
|Elmer Floyd||Cumberland||River Quality, Appropriations||$4,833.00||$500.00|
|Ken Goodman||Hoke, Montgomery, Richmond, Scotland||Energy & Public Utilities, Jt Commission Energy Policy||$50,650.00||$4,000.00||$4,350.00||$8,300.00||$500.00|
|Charles Graham||Robeson||Ag, Appropriations||NOT FILED|
|George Graham||Craven, Greene, Lenoir||Ag, Appropriations||NOT FILED|
|Duane Hall||Wake||Appropriations, Energy & Public Utilities||$44,545.00||$700.00||$14,000.00|
|Terry Garrison||Granville, Vance, Warren||Appropriations, Environment||$7,120.00||$500.00||$1,100.00|
|Pricey Harrison||Guilford||River Quality, Appropriations Approps Ag, Nat & Econ Resources, Energy & Public Utilities, Environment, ERC, Jt Oversight Ag, Nat & Econ Resources, Jt Comm Energy Policy||NOT FILED|
|Howard Hunter III||Bertie, Gates, Hertford, Pasquotank||Ag, Appropriations, Approp Ag, Nat & Econ Resources,||NOT FILED|
|Grier Martin||Wake||Appropriations, Environment||NOT FILED|
|Rodney Moore||Mecklenburg||Energy & Public Utils, Jt Energy Policy||NOT FILED|
|Robert Reives||Chatham, Lee||Agriculture||NOT FILED|
|Billy Richardson||Cumberland,||NOT FILED|
|Bobbie Richardson||Franklin, Nash||Appropriations, Approp Ag, Nat & Econ Resources,||NOT FILED|
|Evelyn Terry||Forsyth||Appropriations, Environment||NOT FILED|
|Michael Wray||Halifax, Northampton||Appropriations, Approp Ag, Nat & Econ Resources, Energy & Public Utilities||$32,437.00||$5,300.00||$9,000.00||$900.00|