Sunday, October 20, 2013

House race heats up (ban on uranium mining)


By BRITTANY HUGHES (434) 791-7983 | Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 6:33 pm 
Many residents in and around Chatham found glossy flyers in their mailboxes earlier this week, courtesy of Democratic candidate for 16th District delegate, Elizabeth Jones.

The one-page ad featured a photo of Republican candidate Les Adams set against filthy industrial barrels, while the text openly accused him of taking money from Virginia Uranium Inc. and its employees to both fund his campaign and help them begin mining operations in Southside Virginia.

“ The truth is that he worked for them and he took political money from them so he could run for office,” stated the flyer, which was paid for by the Democratic Party of Virginia and authorized by Jones.

The flyer also implied that Adams is “trying to wiggle out of the truth” — which, according to the verbiage, is that he’s much more likely to side with mining interests than with the people of Southside if elected.

Adams said he also had a flyer mailed to him Tuesday morning. He said these accusations are blatant lies, and pointed to his consistent public stand against uranium mining.

“ It is entirely false to suggest I have ever had more than one position on this issue,” he said.
“ It’s also entirely false to state I worked for Virginia Uranium, or that I did anything to help bring uranium mining to Virginia,” he added.

The flyer references the fact that Adams’ law firm, Adams, Elmore & Fisk, received between $10,000 and $50,000 from Virginia Uranium Inc. for legal services rendered before Adams announced his candidacy.

But this isn’t new information — Adams addressed this issue back in July when he told the Danville Register & Bee that he wasn’t involved in any work his firm did for VUI. He explained those services were provided by another attorney.

“ I personally have not done work for Virginia Uranium,” he said outright.

Adams went on to state that he still strongly supports the ban on uranium mining, a stance he said he has never changed and will continue to uphold if elected. Any work done for VUI by another attorney in his law firm doesn’t change that, he said.

“ We are not a lobbying firm, and we do not lobby on behalf of any clients,” he said at the time.
The same day, Andrew Lester, executive director of the Roanoke River Basin Association, said he was aware of the potential conflict.

“ [Adams] told me about this particular situation before he announced,” Lester said. “He explained his whole role in the process and what his position is. We don’t have a problem with it.”

Despite having no tangible proof that Adams was directly involved in these legal services, Jones holds that she has a “trust issue” with Adams’ claim.

Adams is actually an equal partner with the other two attorneys in his office, and has said he does not regularly share representative responsibilities.

The flyer also cites a $250 campaign contribution Adams received from VUI president Walter Coles, Sr. back in May. At the time, Ken Bowman, Adams’ opponent in the Republican primary, also received $250 from Coles.

Adams pointed out that since the start of the race, he’s received contributions — totaling about $120,000 according to his campaign’s most recent estimates — from “a broad base of support across the district.” Many of these came from those against uranium mining and were much larger than Coles’ donation, he argued.

“ The amount of money I’ve received from leaders opposed to lifting the moratorium dwarfs [Coles’] in comparison,” Adams said.

Even still, Jones holds that the donation, however small, creates a conflict of interest and makes Adams look bad.

“ It’s questionable. It just seems like a bad idea,” she said. “I wouldn’t have accepted it.”
Adams has not received any other money from Coles since May.

In the meantime, Adams said he will “continue to run a positive campaign that reflects the values of the people in this district.”

“ What this tells me is instead of offering positive solutions, [Jones] continues to spend her time attacking me,” he said. “I reject this style of politics. That may work in New York, where she’s from, but not here.”

Hughes reports for the Danville Register & Bee.