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Woman Dragged Out of Public Hearing For Listing Lawmakers' Oil And Gas Donors

So much for freedom of speech.

SCIENCE AF STAFF
12 FEB 2018
 

Lissa Lucas travelled to West Virginia's state capitol on Friday to publicly testify against a bill that would allow drilling on minority mineral owners' land without their consent.

 

A few minutes into her speech on the bill, which was sponsored by the oil and gas industry, Lucas' microphone was turned off and she was escorted out of the room.

Her mistake? Reading out loud the members of the House Judiciary Committee who have received oil and gas donations - including the chairman himself. 

"As I tried to give my remarks at the public hearing this morning on HB 4268 in defense of our constitutional property rights, I got dragged out of House chambers," Lucas wrote on her blog

"Why? Because I was listing out who has been donating to Delegates on the Judiciary Committee."

Lucas started off her speech by pointing out there is no evidence to suggest the bill will create more jobs.

"I'd also like to point out that the people who were going to be speaking in favor of this bill are all going to be paid by the industry and the people who are going to be voting on this bill are also often paid by the industry," she said.

 

"I have to keep it short simply because the public only gets a minute forty-five while lobbyists can throw a gala at the Marriott with whiskey and wine and talk for hours to the delegates," she added, referring to a recent Shale Energy Alliance reception that was held this month.

Then, without further ado, Lucas began to list every member on the committee who has received oil and gas donations.

"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," she said, naming the chairman himself.

"And I could go on."

Except Lucas was not allowed to continue.

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

"This is not a personal comment," Lucas said.

"It is a personal comment and I am going to call you out of order if you are talking about individuals on the committee," Shott said. 

"If you would, just address the bill. If not, I would ask you to just step down."

Lucas ignored Shott and continued with Delegate Jason Harshbarger's donations, who, incidentally, Lucas is currently running against for a seat in Ritchie County.

 

"About 40 percent of his money (campaign contributions) comes from the oil and natural gas industry," Lucas said.

Shott ordered two security guards to take Lucas out of the room.

"I want to finish," Lucas said.

The security guards persisted.

"Drag me off then," Lucas said.

And so they did.

"People deserve someone to fight for people and not corporations," Lucas can be hearding saying on her way out the door.

Apparently, freedom of speech applies to political donations but not those who wish to publicize them.

Ultimately, despite all of Lucas' hard work, the bill was passed by the committee. Now, it goes to the lower House and state Senate for a full vote. The Governor of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has said he will sign the bill into law if it passes.

Watch the full video here.