Friday, April 16, 2010

Hurt's Shilling for Big Polluter Pays Off

Last month, The Green Miles asked "Is there anything State Sen. Robert Hurt (R-Chatham) won't do for his donors at [American Electric Power subsidiary] Appalachian Power?" Today, we're learning more about what's in it for Hurt as he tries to win the GOP nomination to challenge Rep. Tom Perriello (D-5th).

Hurt's shilling came into the spotlight as he made outlandish excuses to defend Appalachian Power's massive rate hike in December. When 5th district voters expressed outrage at the huge price spike in the middle of a recession, Hurt claimed Appalachian Power had no choice but to raise rates because of carbon pollution regulations. Just one problem -- those regulations don't actually exist yet. (Will Hurt next blame AEP's recent minor stock slip on financial reform that has not yet passed?) Hurt has also vigorously rejected mainstream climate science, sounding an awful lot like Tea Party favorite Ken Cuccinelli.

Hurt's first quarter fundraising report shows his efforts paid off handsomely, with AEP delivering a $1,000 donation. That's on top of the $3,250 Appalachian Power has contributed to Hurt's campaigns since 2001, just a fraction of the $64,717 Hurt has received from energy companies over that period, including $20,750 from electric utilities.

And if Hurt plays his cards right, there's a lot more where that came from! Don't believe me? Just ask Virgil Goode!

AEP gave then-Rep. Goode $10,000 in 2008 alone & $25,850 over his Congressional career, making AEP one of his top donors ever (just ahead of Altria/Philip Morris & RJ Reynolds Tobacco).

It's all part of a massive expansion of AEP's political contributions. As recently as the 1998 cycle, AEP's political action committee spent "only" $139,950. But AEP has already spent $875,048 this time around -- and the 2010 cycle's only half over.

Why is AEP suddenly so interested in politics? It may have something to do with those pesky Democrats (like Rep. Perriello) trying to hold polluters accountable for their pollution. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst named AEP to the Toxic 100 list, identifying AEP as the 35th-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States, releasing roughly 88 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the air every single year.

So the bottom line is, I guess not every customer in Virginia's 5th district is so upset about all that extra money flowing into AEP's coffers & all that pollution going into our air, huh? For Robert Hurt, it just paid off.

Cross-posted from BlueVirginia.us
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