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West Virginia Woman Ejected from State Capitol for Listing Lawmakers’ Donors

by Countable | 2.13.18

What’s the story?

A Democratic candidate for West Virginia’s House of Delegates was dragged out of a public hearing for listing the donations that lawmakers have received from oil and gas companies.

Why does it matter?

Lissa Lucas traveled to Charleston to voice her objections to HB 4268, a proposed bill that would allow oil and gas companies to drill on private land with the consent of 75 percent of landowners, rather than the 100 percent required by current law.

"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.

The Democratic candidate then began reading the list of fossil fuel donations to the lawmakers moving the legislation—including John Shott, head of the House Judiciary Committee.

"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.

That’s when Shott, who was presiding over the hearing, cut her off.

"Ms. Lucas, we ask no personal comments be made," Shott said.

Lucas argued that her comments weren’t personal, and were based on publicly available information.

"It is a personal comment and I’m going to call you out of order if you’re talking about individuals on the committee," Shott replied. “So if you would address the bill. If not, I’ll ask you to please step down.”

When Lucas continued to list donors, her microphone was cut off and security arrived to remove her from the chamber.

Watch the exchange here:

The committee passed the bill later that evening. It’s now headed to the lower House and state Senate.

What do you think?

Should listing lawmakers’ donors be considered a personal attack? Should Lucas have been allowed to finish her public remarks? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: Screen capture)

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