Allen earned nearly $350,000 from his consulting business that lists energy as one of its top priorities, and was paid at least $10,000 in consulting fees from a pair of the nation’s largest coal companies — Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy. A separate nonprofit organization he formed after leaving the Senate tries to influence the public debate about energy in part with contributions from the industry.
Since joining the race in January, Allen has received more than $150,000 in campaign donations from the energy and natural-resources industries — more than all but four other 2012 Senate candidates in the nation.
Allen has repeatedly talked about his support for coal and offshore drilling over the years, but his campaign declined to release names of donors to the nonprofit group, clients at the business he runs or what he did for the energy industry as a consultant.
Instead, campaign staffers emphasize that he has always been interested in energy policy and that his stance on issues has not changed.
“For almost two decades, George Allen has been an outspoken advocate for diverse energy solutions that encourage conservation and innovation; utilize all of our abundant resources including clean coal technology, natural gas and oil; and remove outdated regulatory barriers to the next generation of nuclear power,’’ Allen spokesman Bill Riggs said in a statement. “Unleashing America’s plentiful energy resources will help create over a million new jobs, increase our supply of affordable energy, keep our money here in the USA and generate over $2 trillion in revenue without raising taxes.”
Allen, who faces a crowded field of opponents in June’s Republican primary — including tea party leader Jamie Radtke — is primarily running on economic issues, spending and taxes. He is expected to face Timothy M. Kaine, a former governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in the November 2012 election to replace retiring Sen. James Webb (D).
As governor, Allen appointed the president of a concrete block company as head of the Department of Environmental Quality and cut agency staff by 100 people in an attempt to streamline government.
As senator, he voted for tax breaks to oil and coal companies and against fostering alternative sources, including solar and wind, because he said they were not dependable.
“Did George Allen as a senator vote with oil and coal interests because they gave him so much money? Or does the oil and coal industry still give consultant Allen money because he champions their issues?’’ asked Glen Besa, Virginia director for the Sierra Club. “What difference does it make? The voters simply need to know that . . . George Allen will vote with the oil and coal industry.”