RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The advocacy group Clean Virginia plans to launch a $125,000 statewide digital advertising campaign against Del. Hala Ayala ahead of the June 8 primary, citing a “broken promise” to not take money from utility monopolies during her campaign for lieutenant governor.
Del. Ayala (D-Prince William), one of six Democrats running for lieutenant governor in the primary, disclosed in a campaign finance report filed June 1 that she received two $50,000 donations from Dominion Energy in May.
Clean Virginia, which has worked to counter the influence of Dominion Energy with lobbying efforts and funding campaigns, said Wednesday it gave Ayala’s campaign $25,000 “based on her previous public commitment to refuse utility monopoly money.”
“Del. Ayala’s actions are uniquely disappointing and deceptive – she has campaigned for statewide office on a promise to Virginians that she would hold polluting utility monopolies accountable and then accepted a massive contribution from Dominion Energy,” Brennan Gilmore, Clean Virginia’s executive director, said in a statement. “That is not leadership — it is desperation.”
Ayala did not directly address Clean Virginia’s digital ad attack plans or Dominion’s contributions in a statement Wednesday, but said her choices while in office “have always been based on what’s best for Virginia families.”
“Virginia voters need to know that I will always fight for Virginian families. Whether it was delivering on Medicaid expansion to give 500,000 Virginians access to affordable healthcare or protecting our drinking water from coal ash contamination, my decisions in elected office have always been based on what’s best for Virginia families, and as Lieutenant Governor, that’s exactly what I’ll keep doing.”Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William)
In a statewide candidate questionnaire for Clean Virginia, Ayala noted she did not take money from utility monopolies and had no intentions of doing so when seeking the lieutenant governor’s office.
“I did not accept campaign contributions from Virginia utility monopolies or their employed lobbyist during any of campaigns, and I will not accept them while running for Lieutenant Governor,” she wrote.
Ayala’s campaign received the two contributions from Dominion’s PAC on May 20 and May 27, according to finance reports.
Using the Clean Virginia Fund and Clean Virginia’s political action committee, the group funds campaigns that do not have stock in utility monopolies, and refuse contributions from such companies and their lobbyists.
Clean Virginia has doled out money to campaigns on both sides of the aisle, including to Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), who sought the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor but lost out to Winsome Sears.
The group, founded and funded by Michael Bills, aims to “advance clean government and clean energy by fighting utility monopoly corruption in Virginia politics,” according to the group’s website.
Ayala, who identifies as Afro-Latina, Lebanese and Irish, has picked up key endorsements, including from Gov. Ralph Northam, in her run for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. If elected, she would be the first woman to serve as Virginia Lt. Gov. Ayala is not running for re-election for her House of Delegates seat.
Early voting for the June 8 primary is already underway.
Update: Del. Ayala’s statement was added to the story after the story was published. Ayala’s campaign shared the statement in an email Wednesday night.