Home Inspector general report finds assistant AG went too far in aiding energy companies

Inspector general report finds assistant AG went too far in aiding energy companies


cuccinelli-header2A senior assistant to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli “inappropriately used Commonwealth resources to support” private litigation filed against two energy companies by Southwest Virginia residents for allegedly cheating them out of royalty payments for natural gas drilled on their land.

This was the key finding of a report by State Inspector General Michael Morehart released on Tuesday regarding communications between EQT Production Co. and CNX Gas Co. and Senior Assistant Attorney General Sharon Pigeon, who according to the Morehart report offered legal advice to the energy companies on how to acquire a chain of documents from the defendants in the case and also offered advice on filing procedural challenges to defeat a legal claim from the plaintiffs in the case.

The Cuccinelli team tried to claim vindication in the report. In a statement from Brian Gottstein, a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General, the focus was on a section of the report from the inspector general that indicated there was no evidence that Pigeon had received any instruction from her superiors to provide support or intervene in the case.

“The inspector general’s report proves what we have said from the beginning:  Attorney General Cuccinelli had no prior knowledge of the content of these emails and he did not authorize them,” Gottstein said.

Democratic critics of Cuccinelli have pointed out that his gubernatorial campaign has received more than $100,000 in contributions from CONSOL Energy, the parent company of CNX.

Gottstein in his statement addressed “the innuendo and outright accusations by some that the attorney general was working against landowners,” saying that they “have been proven to be patently false.”

“Attorney General Cuccinelli’s involvement in these cases has always been to protect the rights of Southwest Virginia property owners by defending in court the law that ensures they get paid royalties on the methane taken from the land,” Gottstein said.



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