A West Virginia resident and House of Delegates candidate was physically removed from a public hearing at the West Virginia House of Delegates shortly after she began reading a list of donations made to delegates by the energy industry, during discussion of a bill aimed at easing restrictions on gas and oil-related drilling on private land.
Lissa Lucas, Democratic candidate for District 7 of the West Virginia House of Delegates, appeared at the state capitol to testify regarding House Bill 4268, “which would allow a majority of 75 percent of owners or heirs of a single piece of property to determine whether the property could be developed for oil or gas production” according to WVNews. Lucas claimed that those speaking in favor of the bill and some voting on the bill were being paid by “the industry.”
“I have to keep this short because the public only gets a minute and 45 seconds while lobbyists can throw a gala at the Marriott with whiskey and wine and talk for hours to the delegates,” Lucas said.
She went on to list oil and gas donations that have been made to members of the House Judiciary Committee— which included Committee chairman John Shott, who quickly opposed Lucas’ listing of names.
“John Shott. First Energy $2,000. Appalachian Power $2,000. Steptoe & Johnson—that’s a gas and oil law firm—$2,000. Consol Energy $1,000. EQT $1,000. And I could go on,” Lucas said.
Shott then said, “Miss Lucas, we ask that no personal comments be made?”
“This is not a personal comment,” Lucas responded.
“It is a personal comment and I am going to call you out of order if you are talking about individuals on the committee,” Shott told Lucas. “If you would, just address the bill. If not, I would ask you to just step down.”
She went on to name Delegate Jason Harshbarger, who is employed by Dominion Energy Transmission, and claimed that 40 percent of his contributions “comes from the oil and natural gas industry” as the microphone she was using was cut off. As she continued to press to continue speaking, she could be seen on video being physically led out by two men.
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After the incident, Lucas, who describes herself as someone who is “disgusted with money in politics,” wrote on her website:
“As I tried to give my remarks at the public hearing this morning on HB4268 in defense of our constitutional property rights, I got dragged out of House chambers.
Why? Because I was listing out who has been donating to Delegates on the Judiciary Committee.
This is, of course, public information.
Allow me to point out that if Delegates genuinely think that my talking about who their campaign donors are—and how much they’re receiving from corporate lobbyists/corporate PACs—is an ad hominem attack… then they should be refusing those donations.
Yeah, refuse any donation that, if someone mentions it, makes you feel personally attacked.
Because that’s not an attack. That’s guilt. And you SHOULD be feeling that. Let that guilt about who you’re really working for inform your votes; don’t let the corporate money do it.”
An amended version of HB4268 went on to be approved by the committee and is set to move on to the House and state Senate for a vote; an amendment that was included was one “that would allow non-consenting owners to go to the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to make sure they’re getting the same deal as consenting owners.”