Virginia State Sen. Nathan Miller, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, yesterday labeled as biased a Washington Post article that noted he has received at least $250,000 in legal fees from the state's electric ooperatives while drafting and voting for legislation they wanted.
Miller told the Associated Press he was "proud" of his relationship with the cooperatives, a relationship that spanned more than a decade and, by his own account, has saved the cooperatives millions of dollars.
Miller, a Harrisonburg lawyer, said the Post article was the product of a liberal bias. "They [the press] are sure there are no honest politicians except liberals. They believe in a different type of government. They seem to prefer a legislator who would have no outside interest at all, meaning that he had never done anything, never accomplished anything and never succeeded in any endeavor.
"The Post story illustrates something much larger than my candidacy and that is the feeling of the liberal press that it can dictate to the electorate . . .," Miller told the AP.
Miller, who receives $8,000 a year as a state senator, received legal fees from the two electric cooperative organizations last year that authoritively were placed at $70,000.
Miller acknowledged in a Post interview that he received a monthly retainer from two groups that lobby in Richmond and that he sometimes sought to convince other senators that the measures he had drafted for the cooperatives were needed. Two such bills should save the rural electrical cooperatives Miller represented about $13.2 million.
Miller defended his relationship with the groups, saying he was not a lobbyist, but a citizen-legislator "wearing these two hats." Virginia law, he noted, does not prohibit state legislators from voting on bills that affect businesses in which they have a financial interest. Senate rules bar members from voting on any measure in which they have an "immediate, private, or personal interest."