Environmental Groups Split on Kaine's SCC Appointment of Dominion Attorney Dimitri

Photo of James C. Dimitri from his listing on the webpage of his law firm McGuire Woods.


August 15, Governor Tim Kaine announced his interim appointment as State Corporation Commissioner of James C. Dimitri, who as a partner at the McGuire Woods law firm served as Dominion co-counsel for applications for the Frederick to Loudoun County transmission line in Northern Virginia and the Wise County coal plant.

Evidentally, key Wise County coal plant opponents think Dimitri is okay. The AP states that Cale Jaffe, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, noted that Dimitri represented
a wide array of constituencies...He is widely respected among all stakeholders for his intelligence, expertise, and fair-mindedness.
The Washington Post adds that Chesapeake Climate Action Network supports Dimitri, as does the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, whose chairman Charles Price wrote,

Mr. Dimitri is widely respected among environmental organizations and other stakeholders committed to reducing greenhouse gas pollution and making smart investments in energy efficiency.

On the other hand, transmission line opponents criticized the appointment, including the Piedmont Environmental Council and Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-VA.), who said August 18 that he was

shocked and angered...It's a conflict of interest, and [his name] ought to be withdrawn. . . . Couldn't they find an objective person?

Dimitri, 57, was a SCC staff attorney from 1994 to 2000. Before that, he represented industry for the Christian & Barton law firm and consumers and ratepayers, first as a staff attorney at the Virginia Poverty Law Center and later as assistant attorney general 1983 to 1987.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that the General Assembly's failure to agree on a candidate afforded Kaine the opportunity for Dimitri's appointment which will go before the General Assembly session next January, for consideration for a full six-year term.

Dimitri, 57, was an earlier prospect for the corporation commission, but Republicans balked because...[t]he Somerville, N.J., native donated more than $5,000 to Kaine's gubernatorial campaign and inaugural committee.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project Dimitri gave $375 on 12/27/2005 for the inaugeration and $120 on 10/07/2001 for Kaine's Lt. Governor campaign. His contributions to Kaine for Governor were (cash, unless otherwise indicated):
  • $1,000--10/13/2005
  • $ 250--08/29/2005
  • $ 281 --05/31/2005 (In-Kind: Event Expenses)
  • $1,000--05/09/2005
  • $1,000--01/11/2005
  • $ 300--06/24/2004 (In-Kind: Fundraiser Expenses)
  • $ 500--06/16/2004
  • $ 500--03/17/2003
Dimitri also gave $1,111 during the period 2005 - 8 to his law firm's political committee, which in turn disbursed $550,723 to Republicans and Democrats alike.