West Virginia Woman Dragged From Legislative Hearing On Drilling Bill After Listing Oil and Gas Donations To The Members

lissaWe recently saw a national outcry over a teacher dragged from a school board meeting for raising concerns over school policies.  Now, the West Virginia House of Delegates is under scrutiny for the treatment of a woman, Lissa Lucas, who appeared at a hearing over a drilling bill and attempted to list the contributions accepted by both Democrats and Republicans from the gas and oil industries.  She also raised an event the night before where the members wined and dined with industry lobbyists.  She was forciably removed from the hearing after Chairman, John Shott (R-Mercer) ruled her comments as non-germane and personal. Many voters would likely disagree and say that the extent of corporate-related money is not relevant to the legislation.


Lucas is going to challenge one of the members and traveled the 100 miles from her home in Cairo, West Virginia to testify against an oil and gas industry sponsored bill (HB 4268). The bill is being pushed by oil and gas companies and would allow companies to drill on minority mineral owners’ land without their consent.

She walked up to the podium and noted that  “the people who are 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 often also paid by the industry,” Lucas said.

She added a reference tothe Whiskey, Wine and Policy Winter Legislative Reception at the Charleston Marriott Hotel on February 7 sponsored by the Shale Energy Alliance: “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.”

shott_johnThat was it. When she started to list the campaign money going to the members, Chairman John Shott (R-Mercer) cut her off:  “Miss Lucas, we ask that no personal comments be made.”

Lucas insisted that “This is not a personal comment,” but Shott 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. If you would, just address the bill. If not, I would ask you to just step down.”

Lucas continued with a reference to her opponent Delegate Jason Harshbarger (R-7):  “About 40 percent of his money (campaign contributions) comes from the oil and natural gas industry,” Lucas said.

She was then dragged off.

There is a point in barring personal attacks, particularly from people who are political opponents.  However, corporate influence on a bill would seem germane to the evaluation of the need and purpose of the legislation.  This bill after all would overrule West Virginians on drilling operations.


Lucas could sue for the denial of her free speech rights.  Courts tend to be reluctant to micromanage such hearings and could well side with the legislators but a credible challenge could be made.

In 1972, the Supreme Court articulated the standard for content-neutral restrictions in  Grayned v. The City of Rockford: “The crucial question is whether the manner of expression is basically incompatible with the normal activity of a particular place at a particular time.” It is certainly responsible to restrict discussion to the merits of the legislation at issue and a court could agree that the motivations of the members is not relevant to the specific merits of the proposal. There is however an argument that alleged corporate influence is germane and, as stated in  Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, such limitations are valid provided that they are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.”

This could make for an interesting challenge, though the legislative committee has the edge going in.  The members could end up winning the judge and losing the voters in the court of public opinion.

What do you think?





77 thoughts on “West Virginia Woman Dragged From Legislative Hearing On Drilling Bill After Listing Oil and Gas Donations To The Members”

  1. “The bill is being pushed by oil and gas companies and would allow companies to drill on minority mineral owners’ land without their consent.”

    Let me translate: People who live on rural land are constantly screwed by people who live in cities, and politicians who are bought and paid for by whoever wants to screw over country people. And it isn’t just Big Oil. You name it, if it falls under the purview of Not In My Backyard, it gets dumped on rural people, because they are unincorporated, and do not have the votes to be self determinative.

    I would like to see a change in policy to make it more representative. People who live in an impacted area, should be the ones to vote on an issue. People in LA should not vote for things they love in theory, but do not want to leave near in practice, and force it upon other people who don’t want it.

    This happens all the time. A county will vote for a nuclear facility, which they sure as heck are not going to put into the center of the town that voted for it. No. It will go in the country with people who voted against it. Same for High Speed Rail, wind farms, pot farms, oil drilling, Monsanto, and on and on. If anyone thinks that this is merely a Big Oil issue, then they are wrong.

    Both sides of the political aisle are dirty on this subject. It is true, and requires reform, that special interests are allowed to shower money and wine and get unfettered access to politicians, who are elected to serve and represent all. It is similar to a fiduciary duty.

    I think her comments were germane, and she had a right to be heard. You keep fighting the good fight, sister.

    1. I would like to add that campaign donations and fetes are relevant no matter who held the purse – Big Oil, Big Union, Big Monsanto, Hollywood, Soros, Koch…

      Transparency. We are entitled to the information of who tips the scales, and why.

      Right now, all of us are allowed to donate our funds to any cause we believe in. That goes for the rich and the poor. However, campaign finance must be reformed to take the money out of politics. It has gone beyond merely using your resources to help, to buying politicians. And that’s not representation.

      1. Yeah, but not the teacher’s unions or any other union dominated by DNC contributors, right?

  2. Is there video of the actual dragging? Or is this just more sensationalized liberal press.

  3. The nerve of that citizen trying to express her views to her elected Representatives. …. She has no idea how it works, first she should have Incorporated herself, then they would by law have to listen to her, cause corporations are people too.

    1. The nerve of that citizen trying to express her views to her elected Representatives.

      How many elected representatives does this citizen have?

          1. Olly, do you have a brain fart today? …Town, city, county, state, federal….And its still her representatives even if she didn’t vote for them.

            1. Or maybe you think women should not have the vote? Why point out her? If it was a man when I would have wrote him.

            2. do you have a brain fart today?

              I guess so, and it smells like fish. Trying to follow your logic is like trying to follow a drunk driver. First she has representatives, then she has NONE. Then she has them from local to federal, even if she didn’t vote for them. Now it’s morphed into Or maybe you think women should not have the vote? Why point out her? Well, if you read the article………, Damn, sober up!

                1. I’m sorry I interrupted your time with your coloring books.

                  Don’t be. After growing up with two alcoholic parents, responding to you almost second nature..However, interrupting my nap time is another thing altogether. 😉

                    1. Does every single person she intended to name get a chance to rebut her accusation? If yes, what time would the meeting adjourn?

                      Is that the proper forum to make overly personalized accusations that may be correct or false? Could she have used anonymous pronouns which would not require personal rebuttal at that very moment?

                      Do you Linda and her sources are infallible?

    2. “first she should have Incorporated herself, then they would by law have to listen to her, cause corporations are people too.”

      I think I note a bit of sarcasm when considering the rights of corporations to petition and assemble.

      The rights to petition and assemble are among the most basic rights we have. “Assemble” means a gathering of persons with a common interest. Corporations represent a gathering of persons… Therefore whether individually or as a group (corporations being one type of group) the right “peaceably to assemble and petition” exists.

      Amendment 1:”Congress shall make no law… abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  4. West Virginia seceded from Virginia at the start of the civil war so that it could stay in the Union. Its mountain people were not slave holders. Some but not many. West Virginia has some good qualities. Like the lady thrown out in the photo.

  5. The Legislative Branch officials violated the federal “Title 18 Criminal Code” statutes that codify constitutional violations when acting under “color of law”. Where are the U.S. Attorneys at the U.S. Justice Department enforcing federal law?

    Maybe the bigger issue is creating an truly “independent” DOJ that enforces the law – regardless of political party? Criminally prosecuting the state legislators creates a deterrent to other law breakers acting under “color of law”.

  6. Campaign donors are required to be acknowledge under even our toothless “laws”. She has a lot of courage.

    Of course they want less transparency and as little accurate information as possible to be released to the public. These people are supposed to work for us. The fact of industry access is actually quite relevant/important. A Princeton study showed, flat out, that what the majority of people wanted to have passed by Congress did not pass while a very high percentage of bills the small donor class wanted passed were passed. Think about it!

    1. “These people are supposed to work for us.”
      Who says they aren’t? Are they doing anything illegal? Are they not allowed to take campaign donations? I would suggest that when it comes to energy bills, every time the majority fills a tank up or turns on a light switch, they are “working for us”.

  7. I guess I’d have to ask is what Lissa Lucas is trying to bring to the table illegal activity? Have these companies done anything wrong? If not, then she is just speaking innuendo and needs to stop. Now, we might not like that system, so change the system.

    1. I guess I’d have to ask is what Lissa Lucas is trying to bring to the table illegal activity?

      That’s an interesting point. What is the purpose of public discussion on this bill or any bill? Is the bill constitutional? Are rights being violated?

      1. Olly,
        That is my issue with people like this who think they are righteous. They want to throw mud and suggest that there is wrong doing going on. It would seem, if that were true, then she would be showing the proof of that and she would have our support. Or, if there was wrong doing, then she wouldn’t need this platform especially with a press on her side. So it comes back too, what is her point?

        1. Jim22 and Olly etc., Forget about self-righteousness. When legislators are voting on a bill where lobbyists have provided those legislators with benefits should the knowledge of such benefits be open to the public?

          “attempted to list the contributions accepted by both Democrats and Republicans from the gas and oil industries.”

          1. Allen,
            I’m not advocating for our system which seems to have issues. My question is what if anything is illegal about what is going on? If nothing, then move on. The rules are set and if we don’t like the rules people are playing in, then it’s time to rethink the rule book.

            1. The rules are set…

              Perhaps, but the team that follows the letter of the rules loses. Why, because the other team does not. So they both violate the rules until someone gets flagged for a flagrant foul or cited by a compromised official.

              1. Olly, I think some states have public record laws that make it criminal not to announce potential conflicts of interest.

            2. Jim22, I think what the woman had to say regarding the legislation was germane and she should have been permitted to say it. In fact, I believe all the legislators should have individually announced any contact or associations that could influence their decision, right there on the podium, while the legislation was being discussed. It lets everyone know where and how the legislators had contact with those that have a tremendous amount to gain or lose from the legislation being passed.

              1. Allen,
                This puts out an assumption that there is some sort of wrongdoing going on. Should I be able to go to this meeting and say, I saw so and so down at the town park watching the little kids play. I’m not saying they are a molester, but, well, I’m just saying.

                I used to be a big NASCAR fan and we always said the winner is who can bend the rules without breaking them. But teams would get caught and get penalized.

                1. Jim22, it is all a matter of the relationships involved. In the case mentioned by Turley, the legislators had received campaign donations from those companies where a bill involving those companies now appears before the legislators. You are darn right the people have a right to know. In fact, I think it is an obligation for legislators to inform the public of such donations or contacts.

  8. These environmental activists should be careful. Take the case of Red Fawn Fallis.

    Red Fawn was arrested up at the front lines during the DAPL protests on highway 1806 in North Dakota. She was facing 30 years in prison, so pleaded guilty & 1 of the 3 charges was dropped. That would be discharing a firearm. So now the jail time is down to 7 years. But Red Fawn has another problem. The gun belonged to her boyfriend who was an FBI informant & will testify against her in court.

    Here is the video of the arrest. Shots fired at (mark 0:27) view is blocked when cops pile on Red Fawn.

    1. An American who understands the United States Constitution would be incensed that another American who was exercising her First Amendment rights was treated this way. True patriots subscribe to the theory that “though they may disagree with what you say, they will fight to the death for your right to say it.” Pathetic.

      this is to “but Mussolini DID make the trains run on time” TJ

  9. Mr Turley, Thank you for your coverage of this & allowing it to be seen by a wider audience . I’m shocked but
    not surprised by elected officials involving political donations & other freebies.


  10. “Allan, Please stop responding to Lloyd. We all are saddened by what he does.

    Most people know the squirrels will go away once you stop feeding them and remove their food.”

    CV, I like squirrels and all sorts of animals. I don’t expect them to have significant intellectual awareness. It is their raw simplicity I find so attractive.

  11. This woman’s point is that our elected representatives are bought and paid for by the oligarchs, special interests, and our system of ‘funding’ elections. The best do not represent the people. The best puppets represent those that pull the strings.

    This ‘freedom’ to fund elections seems to have become as American as apple pie and the Constitution. The difference between apple pie and the Constitution is that to be worthy the pie has to be good, where to be worthy the Constitution simply has to be interpreted, sometimes perversely, as with the second amendment.

    There was a time when slavery was defended as being American. We are exiting a time when women being second to men is somehow American. Unfortunately we are a long way from addressing this travesty, this shame, this wholly unAmerican trait where those few with all the money, own our government and design our future.

    Other countries have created laws to stop concentrated private funding. The US has laws to protect the oligarchs. We were given a choice between two deplorable for President. Regardless of who got in, the election was funded to the tune of over a billion and a half dollars. The top few hundred oligarchs controlled almost all of that.

    Now, let’s hear how this is what the founding fathers designed. Let’s have some arguments as to how this is what it means to be American. Let’s hear from the mindless patriots who posit that Americans are too stupid to make the decisions and that being a Republic means allowing a select few to rule in their favor, as long as the mob is sated.

    1. all the leftist BS aside and back to objective realty. Where is this listed posted and available in it’s entirety.?

      Getting it out to the public is the only point worth making is available for not and not only for West Virginia but other states and the to the PACs of poltiicians at the federal level.

      No more than four sentences needed.

      1. Michael Aarethun

        Unfortunately, your proposed four sentences typically receive no attention. Public funded elections are more representative of the voters than our system of oligarch and special interest funded elections. The government belongs to all the people therefore it should be the property of all the people and not the few mega wealthy, etc.

        However, these snippets are easily dismissed. Whatever time you spent reading my post elicited a response. Had it been four sentences it might have been more easily dismissed, perhaps as nothing more than the stuff of a Canadian.

        Sometimes, more often than not, it takes many, many, many meetings of the head and the wall before common sense prevails. The common sense here is that we have two choices, one more than a dictatorship and both choices are controlled by a very few percent of the population, the oligarchs, special interests, and established mega rich. The common sense here may be unfortunately that America does not have what it takes to be truly as how the founding fathers intended. Perhaps the trinkets thrown to the mob represent the determining ingredient here. Mindless patriotism, cheap gas, and cheap jingoes emblazoned on hats.

        1. Public funded elections are not likely to represent the voters. It would allow incumbents and bureaucrats to control the funding. An election law which only allowed contributions from, or advertising paid for by, persons eligible to vote in that particular election would go much further towards representing the views of the voters. It would disallow out of are money being contributed to local elections, it would prevent out of state money from being contributed to state wide elections, it would prevent foreign money (already supposed to be illegal) from being contributed to national elections, and it would prevent corporate money (corporations are not eligible to vote) from being contributed to all elections.

          1. SierraRose

            Public funded elections have been proven effective when the laws and regulations are designed to perform regardless of which party may be in power. Canada has formulas that award a party a per registered voter amount. There are other sources of funding, a reasonable per registered voter only amount of perhaps $1,000.00. Together the most represented get the most funds. In any event, the mega finance fueled circus does not exist where there is no mega financial input. A candidate is inclined to talk about the issues in some detail.

            What makes this work is the elimination of concentrated funding and influence by the private sector. Typically the media is purchased, regardless of party. Typically the government medias are left leaning. However, with a limited amount of funding, regulated by a non partisan designed set of formulas and laws, the substance relayed from the candidates to the voters would logically drift towards the important issues rather than nifty slogans on hats.

            There is no country that has absolutely no influence from the mega rich, special interests, and oligarchs. However, those countries with structures in place to limit this private influence have more real issues around which elections revolve and less circus as is found in the US.

            One has to start somewhere and go in the appropriate direction. This last election as well as pretty much all elections see the ilk of Rick Scott, Donald Trump, and other reprobates elected due to their wealth and connections to wealth and not their integrity or intelligence on the issues. We have a Governor of Florida who defrauded the American people of over 250 million and managed to skate by taking the fifth over two dozen times. And, we have Trump as a President. What more does this country need to understand that it has to change direction. The founding fathers are weeping in their graves.

  12. In the age of trump and republican corporatism the worst thing to let out to the public is the truth. Free speech, transparency, civil rights, voting rights and the free press be damned. There is nothing more important to ‘family values,’ evilgelical republicans than money, regardless of how dirty that money is or the damage done by the elected, moneyed, Mussolini mobsters. trump is still not releasing where his $107 million inauguration money went. If Obama hid $107 the right wing, nut job freaks would be up in arms and demanding an IRS audit. trump hides $107 million, well who cares. He won’t release his taxes, so expect him to hide his inauguration cash in a nice safe vault at trump tower. SAD!

    1. SAD!….


      $6 Bil Vanishes From State Dept. Under Hillary Clinton

      APRIL 07, 2014

      In a mind-boggling example of how the government blows—or perhaps steals—our tax dollars, billions vanished from the U.S. State Department mostly while Hillary Clinton ran it, according to a new alert issued by the agency’s inspector general.

      Could the former Secretary of State be using the cash to fund an upcoming presidential campaign? In all, $6 billion are missing and it’s highly unlikely any of the money will ever be recovered. The cash was supposed to be used to pay contractors but it just disappeared and documents that could help track the dough cannot be located. How convenient! The paper trail, which federal law says must be maintained in the case of government contracts, has been destroyed or was never created to begin with.

      How could this possibly happen? Like a lot of government agencies, outside contracts are a free-for-all at the State Department with virtually no oversight. Hundreds of millions of dollars are doled out annually for a variety of services and no one bothers to follow up on the deals. This “exposes the department to significant financial risk,” according to the State Department Inspector General, which issued a special management alert this month outlining the lost $6 billion. The watchdog further writes that “it creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file.”

      Among the examples listed in the memo is a recent investigation of the closeout process for contracts involving the U.S. mission in Iraq. Investigators could not locate 33 of the 115 contract files totaling approximately $2.1 billion. Even of the files they found, more than half contained insufficient documents required by federal law. In one billion-dollar deal involving the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement in Afghanistan, the actual contract was determined to be “incomplete.”

      In one alarming case a contract file conveniently omitted that a $52 million deal was awarded to a company owned by the spouse of another State Department contractor employee performing as a specialist. In other cited cases a contracting officer actually falsified government technical review information in a $100 million deal and a contracting officer’s representative allowed nearly $800,000 to be paid on a deal with no official documents to support the payment. It’s the free-flow of public funds under extremely suspicious circumstances.

      At the very least the State Department is violating its own policy, according to the inspector general, which divulges that it’s found “repeated examples of poor contract file administration over the years.” The watchdog confirms that “it is the Department’s policy that all contracts, regardless of dollar value, be properly documented so as to provide complete record of: pre-solicitation activities; the solicitation, evaluation, and award process; and [sic] the administration of the contract through closeout.”

      This unbelievable report documenting the mysterious disappearance of $6 billion from the coffers of a major government agency brings to mind a similar and equally enraging story reported by Judicial Watch a few years ago. The Pentagon somehow lost $6.6 billion sent to Iraq for post-invasion “reconstruction.”

      The money was bundled in chunks of $100 bills and transported in turboprop military cargo planes known as C-130 Hercules. About $2.4 billion fit in each aircraft and 21 flights made trips, transporting a total of $12 billion in American currency to Iraq. More than half the money has never been recovered, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

      A year later nearly half a billion dollars in oil destined for the Afghan National Army vanished. We will never know what happened because the Pentagon improperly shredded records that could have solved the mystery, according to a federal audit that exposed the fraud. The oil was part of a $1 billion fuel program largely funded by the U.S. government, which of course, means it was mostly Americans who saw their tax dollars blown in yet another government corruption scheme.

      Waste and fraud are par for the course in most bloated government agencies and JW has exposed a number of alarming examples over the years, both domestically and internationally. They involve practically all agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) scandal-plagued food-stamp program, Medicare and Medicaid, the famously corrupt U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and President Obama’s fraud-infested $787 billion stimulus boondoggle, to name a few.

    2. IS there a post of the list and any other that is objectively useful or not? Is there are there was htere any facts and if so why are they not included?

    3. “In the age of trump and republican corporatism the worst thing to let out to the public is the truth. ”

      Day late and a dollar short with this partisan hackery.

  13. It appears that just like the FBI other public agencies don’t like transparency when it reveals something distasteful. This is one such example. If transparency embarrasses public officials then maybe transparency will help force them to work for the people instead of the lobbyist.

    I wonder if anyone has done significant studies on transparency comparing states with sunshine laws and states without.

    1. Why is trump not releasing the democratic response to the Nunes memo that was considered ‘reckless’ by the DOJ and FBI? Is your trump not acting in a transparent manner?

      1. You must forget that the Nunes memo was prepared months ago for release and was just released. What took so long? Care was taken so it would be accurate and not reveal information most damaging to the United State’s security. It was then voted upon, sent to the President, reviewed for security and then released.

        The Schiff memo was hastily constructed just recently. It is believed that there are definite security problems with the release of that memo. It is now under review. The total time for the release of the Nunes memo was much greater than the time to date that the Schiff memo has been pending.

        I feel certain it will be released, but probably with a lot of redactions. We can get a better idea from the Grassley memo also released that has redactions of names. Read that memo and you can probably figure out the names involved.

        It is my belief that virtually all the information regarding this election should be released except for what I believe to be a small part that could be dangerous to security.

        “Nunes memo that was considered ‘reckless’ by the DOJ and FBI?

        Why don’t you quote what was reckless in the Nunes memo? It appears nothing was, but the left, DOJ, and FBI all acted as if the world would implode if that memo was released. Adam Schiff said that, but most do not disagree with the facts presented in the memo and all or almost all were thought to be known before its release.

      2. WE have to repeat the same thing over and over and over so the Blankfins can ignore it. There is a a set procedure. It starts with whoever produced the memo. Goes through the committee check goes to NSA, FBI, DOJ and others to review… and comments attached check goes to the White House for the President check President agreed with the comments the ten pages were filled with too much about methods and procedures not germane as the other agencies pointed out check. He sent it back to the original producer of the memo with comments from all levels attached check. what they do with it is??? up to themappears they are doing a rewrite. check IT has NOT Been refused for release once those procedures are follwoed check BUT

        as we all know it was written that way on purpose to begin with so clones like Blank fin could complain as if they were unaware of the steps required..

        Who can now igore again and say

        why is trump not releasing again.

        Why not? Is all a fairy tail in the mind of a mysticism driven other worlders subjective programming.

        1. “WE have to repeat the same thing over and over and over so the Blankfins can ignore it.”

          The “Blankfins” don’t want to acknowledge the truth. They prefer to make up their own truths rather than rely on the facts.

    2. i’d just settle for some facts such as the list from WVA and other places and those supposedly in existence or a list of places where they were posted in entirety ….the endless would be should be could be conjecture really gets nothing accomplished.

      1. “i’d just settle for…”

        Michael, I understand part of what you are saying, but I think you are trying to say more. Do you care to further explain?

  14. “…if you are talking about individuals on the committee.”

    Speaking about corporate influence has nothing to do with each person privately; it has everything to do with each person in their capacity *as an elected official.*

    Pay-to-play, something the supposedly swamp-hating Republicans love to whine about (who then went on to elect His Orangeness “When they call, I give” Trump), is absolutely relevant in such a hearing, as it relates to the motives behind passing whichever legislation.

    A committee of all Democrats should be questioned the same.

    1. To what end? If you want that type of commitee get off your butt and elect all Socialists and do call them by their correct name.

  15. The contributions are germane. Using force to restrict free speech where the persons using force have reason to restrict free speech because it reveals their conflict of interest is abhorrent.

    I’ve seen this in public meetings. It seems that the purpose if these meetings is to permit the public to voice these types of concerns.

    1. In this case it seems to be a clear cut case of a cover up by the polticians. That’s for the voters and citizens of West Virginia to take care of but where or where is the list posted?

  16. I think she has a case, just not sure how far she will have to appeal to get satisfaction.

    1. Try posting it where it can be read by the entire public especially the voters of West Virginia?

  17. It will be interesting to see what happens with all of this. Hope the Professor does a followup. While I lean libertarian, all I have to do is look next door and it gives me reservations. The drilling they do there has larger implications for almost the entire mid Atlantic region. You see what happens to the representatives in DC who for generations who drank the untreated WV toilet water from the Potomac.

    1. which came street from the plumbing of the Congressional buildings good call.

Comments are closed.