RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia General Assembly on Wednesday elected two experienced attorneys who were nominated a day earlier to fill long-standing vacancies on the state’s powerful regulatory panel that oversees interests ranging from utilities to insurers.
Without opposition, both chambers approved the appointments of Sam Towell and Kelsey Bagot to the State Corporation Commission, an independent state agency with a staff of hundreds. It has a purview that includes the regulation of utilities, insurance, state-chartered financial institutions, railroads, business filings and other matters. Three commissioners — the roles Towell and Bagot are stepping into — oversee the agency’s work.
Both the 2022 and 2023 legislative sessions saw political gridlock over how the then-politically divided General Assembly should fill commissioner vacancies. Democrats opened this session in full control of both chambers after November’s elections, giving them the leeway to advance their preferred nominees.
Bagot was most recently employed by Florida-based energy giant NextEra Energy. She previously worked at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as a legal advisor to Commissioner Mark Christie, a former chairman of the State Corporation Commission. Her six-year term will commence April 1.
Towell most recently worked as an in-house attorney for meat producer Smithfield Foods and previously served in the state Office of the Attorney General as deputy attorney general for civil litigation. He will fill an unexpired term of nearly four years.
The Legislature also elected judges to the Court of Appeals, circuit courts, general district courts, juvenile and domestic relations courts, the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission and the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission, which investigates complaints against judges.
Lawmakers conducted judicial interviews in December. At least two former members of the House of Delegates, Les Adams of Pittsylvania County and Jeffrey Campbell of Smyth County, were among those elected to six-year terms as general district court judges.