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McAuliffe campaign airs new TV ad on gas royalties

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe’s campaign is releasing a new TV ad based on an ongoing legal dispute between energy companies and property owners in Southwest Virginia.

It’s the campaign’s second TV spot hammering Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli on the issue.

The ad starts with Paul Osborne of Raven speaking directly to the camera, saying “My family’s been in Southwest Virginia since the mid 1800s. My grandfather would roll over in his grave if he saw what was going on today with the energy companies.”

“Ken Cuccinelli is helping the energy companies take all that they can take from the landowners,” he says. “He’s received over $100,000 for his campaign.”

“If I can’t trust him now as the attorney general, how am I going to trust him as a governor?”

The controversy started when a U.S. magistrate railed against e-mails that she said “shockingly” indicated that one of Cuccinelli’s assistant attorneys general was offering advice to the attorneys for two energy companies involved in potential class-action litigation with Virginia property owners over natural gas rights.

One of the companies, Pennsylvania-based Consol Energy, is among Cuccinelli’s largest political donors, having provided more than $100,000 to the attorney general’s campaign over the past two years.

Cuccinelli’s office has acknowledged that the tone of some of the e-mails was “overzealous,” but vigorously denied any donor connection to the handling of the case and said the office was simply defending Virginia law in its role as adviser to Virginia’s Gas and Oil Board.

Virginia’s inspector general has said he is investigating whether a staffer wrongfully advised energy company lawyers in the ongoing federal court battle.  Cuccinelli’s said in a statement that “We’re glad the Inspector General’s Office has been looking into this case because they’re going to find that our office acted appropriately.”

UPDATE: Anna Nix, a spokeswoman for Cuccinelli’s campaign, responded to the ad:
“Terry McAuliffe’s campaign for governor lacks any positive message and hinges only on negative and false attacks on Ken Cuccinelli in an attempt to distract voters from his involvement in two federal investigations. Ken has a long history of working for the people of Southwest Virginia, including offering legislation to release the gas royalties to the rightful owners and protecting the coal industry from the McAuliffe/Obama War on Coal.

“Ken will continue to campaign, in Southwest Virginia and across the Commonwealth, on his positive message of creating jobs, growing the economy, and easing the burden on middle-class families, while Terry apparently will do little outside lying about Ken’s record as well as his own.”