By now, politicians endeavoring to hide who has donated to their campaigns—and how much those corporate interests have donated—is nothing new.
What has been a more disturbing trend, however, is the physical removal of those who would shed light on the dark corners of their campaign finances. Most recently, we look to the intentional obfuscation of the truth in West Virginia, where Lissa Lucas was physically removed from a hearing for trying to shed light on corporate interests.
A candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates, Lucas was on the floor to testify on a bill regulating oil and gas drilling practices. In particular, she aimed to criticize the proposed bill, HB 4268, which would require only 75 percent of landowners to approve drilling for companies to legally drill on private land.
In other words? If the bill passes, if three of your neighbors are okay with drilling, but you aren’t, you’d be out of luck—even if it was your land.
Needless to say, it isn’t a popular bill with constituents—but is likely to pass anyway, because our lawmakers are owned by corporate interests. And Lucas aimed to highlight that in her testimony, reading a list of lawmakers who had received large donations from fossil fuel companies.
As she noted,
“The people who are going to be speaking in favor of this bill are all going to be paid by the industry … the people who are going to be voting on this bill are often also paid by the industry.”
In response, the House Judiciary Committee ordered her to refrain from making “personal comments” about members (never mind that these members are elected representatives, and who they get money from should be a matter of public record). When she refused, her microphone was cut off. She was then dragged off, as you can see in the video below.
As Lucas wrote on her blog,
“I got dragged out of House chambers … Because I was listing out who has been donating to Delegates on the Judiciary Committee.”
Among the big names, delegate Charlotte Lane received fully 20 percent of her campaign funding from energy firms. Delegate Jason Harshbagger is even more beholden, with fully 38 percent of his contributions straight from Big Oil.
As Lucas noted,
“While lobbyists have the money to buy your time at fancy gatherings like the Wine and Whisky gala at the Marriott on Wednesday—members of the public have been allotted just about two minutes.”
Government for the people and by the people this is not.
As Lucas concluded, lawmakers are
“getting paid to hand over your property rights to corporations.”