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McAuliffe donor wades into Va. gas royalty dispute

Thursday - 9/26/2013, 4:10am  ET

Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer has poured some of his fortune into Terry McAuliffe's Democratic candidacy for governor in Virginia.

But his newest cause requires considerably less investment.

Steyer flew three southwest Virginia residents to Richmond to keep alive a dispute over natural gas royalties. Wednesday, they announced the launch of "Virginians For Clean Government."

The case has been a political embarrassment since a federal judge last summer wrote that she was shocked that an assistant attorney general appeared to be assisting the energy companies against a possible class action involving thousands of property owners.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe's Republican opponent, has called the assistant attorney general's work overzealous, but has said her interest was solely in defending a state law that is at the center of the case.

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