Candidate Ejected From West Virginia House Floor for Listing Lawmakers’ Oil and Gas Donors

John H. Shott, a West Virginia state lawmaker, did not appreciate when, during a public hearing on the House floor on Friday, a citizen began listing donations he and some of his colleagues had received from the oil and gas industry.

He asked her to stop, warning her that she would be out of order if she continued.

And when she ignored him, reading the name of the next politician who had accepted donations related to the bill under discussion, which would make it easier for oil and gas companies to drill on private land, he had her forcibly escorted out.

The citizen, Lissa Lucas, is a Democrat running for the House of Delegates in the state’s Seventh District. She arrived at the public hearing on Friday intending to talk about the delegates’ donors.

“The people who are going to be speaking in favor of this bill are all going to be paid by the industry and the people who are going to be voting on this bill are also often paid by the industry,” she said.

She said that Delegate Charlotte R. Lane, one of the bill’s sponsors and a Republican, had received $10,000 from industry interests in past elections, a number corroborated by VoteSmart, a website that tracks campaign contributions.

She then moved on to Mr. Shott, a Republican and the chair of the judiciary committee, who was presiding over the hearing. She said that he had collectively taken $8,000 from industry interests. VoteSmart lists $4,500 contributed to Mr. Shott from the oil and gas industry and another $3,500 from the mining industry.

Then, as Ms. Lucas prepared to move on to Jason S. Harshbarger, the Republican delegate she is running to unseat, Mr. Shott cut in.

“Ms. Lucas, we ask no personal comments be made,” he said.

She protested, arguing her comments weren’t personal.

“It is a personal comment and I’m going to call you out of order if you’re talking about individuals on the committee,” Mr. Shott said. “So if you would address the bill. If not, I’ll ask you to please step down.”

Ms. Lucas’s microphone was cut off shortly afterward. At Mr. Shott’s request, two men approached her, clasped her arms and escorted her from the floor.

Ms. Lucas, 46, said in an interview on Monday that she was less concerned with being elected than with the issue that caused her to attend the hearing.

“I think politics must suck your soul out somehow,” she said. “I don’t really care so much if I win or not so long as whoever’s representing us is not attacking our property rights.”

Mr. Shott on Monday defended his decision to cut Ms. Lucas off, and said that he did not see why the campaign donations were relevant to the bill.

“I think the merits of the bill is what we wanted to hear about,” he said.

He rejected the assertion that he and others were in the industry’s pocket. “We made numerous changes that the industry did not want that were more favorable to our landowners, our mineral owners and surface owners,” he said.

He said that he believed Ms. Lucas’s protest was a setup, and he suggested that she had expected to be filmed. (Ms. Lucas said she had expected to be gaveled but not to be “carted out.” She said she had been sent multiple versions of the video after the episode, but had not coordinated with anyone in advance.)

The bill Ms. Lucas spoke out against, House Bill 4268, would permit companies to drill on private land after obtaining the consent of 75 percent of the landowners. Current law requires that companies obtain approval from all the affected landowners, allowing any individual to prevent drilling.

Ms. Lucas, a self-described introvert who was born and raised in West Virginia, manages interactive media for a site that sells chickens.

But she is passionate about her farm near Cairo, W.Va., where she has mineral rights. She has paid close attention to the oil and gas industry’s push to buy more and more property in recent years.

“People out here aren’t against drilling and fossil fuels by and large,” she said. “In general, people like the gas. It’s that we don’t want the property invasion. These corporations are trying to force people to give up their mineral rights, force people to take bad leases.”

Explaining why she had decided to run, she said, “I got increasingly worried that if I kept my nose buried in my garden, I wouldn’t have a garden to keep it buried it in.”

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