How many registered lobbyists would you guess Virginia Uranium Inc. (VUI) has had over the past year (from May 2011-April 2012)? 5? 7? How about 12? None of the above. VUI now has 19 lobbyists in its employ. Yes, 19.
By contrast, if you search “public school” on the Virginia Public Access Project’s (VPAP) website, you’ll find “12 Client Companies/Groups,” or 11 public school localities and one National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Out of these 12 entities, only 13 registered lobbyists are on record for the past 2 reporting periods. Virginia Uranium Inc. has 19 in the last reporting period alone.
Imagine what public advocacy and environmental groups in Virginia could accomplish if each had 19 lobbyists!
What is equally unique (and threatening to the public health interests of Virginians) is the diversity of lobbying firms that VUI has chosen to pick from: Capital Results LLC, Hunton & Williams, Kemper Consulting Inc, McGuire Woods, Vectre Corp. I’ll point out what you’ve already surmised, this isn’t a chump list of lobbyists. Rather, this is a strategic list of heavy-hitting lobbying and consulting firms placed like so many pieces on the chest-board of public policy to take the king.
Let me end with an excerpt from Kemper Consulting’s official website: “The firm is comprised of veteran lobbyists, former senior members of the Executive Branch, and experienced and highly recognized lawyers and consultants.”
Uranium mining is not inevitable in Virginia, but Virginians must retain an attentive eye on the issue, constantly calling and writing to their local papers and elected representatives about their reservations regarding uranium mining. A number of good people in southern Virginia stand to lose a great deal if we fail to act. Who’s to say that we won’t be next?