Senator urges IG probe of Cuccinelli’s office providing legal aid to natural gas companies

A Virginia state senator said Monday that he planned to ask the state’s Inspector General to investigate reports that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office had given legal advice to two energy companies in a complex battle with state residents over natural gas royalties, even though the state wasn’t a formal party in the lawsuit.

Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) said in a teleconference Monday that he was disturbed by media reports that an assistant attorney general aided lawyers for EQT Production Co. and CNX Gas Co., two Pittsburgh-area energy companies, in their dispute with landowners over royalty payments.

Although the Attorney General’s office acts as an adviser to the Virginia Gas and Oil Board, the board is not a party in the lawsuit. Puckett said the Office of the Inspector General should examine whether the Cuccinelli’s office acted properly.

The Attorney General’s assistance came to light in an opinion issued Wednesday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent, who expressed shock at the office’s intervention.

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