A new analysis of government records reveals that Duke Energy – the world’s largest private electric utility – began writing unusually large checks to the national Republican Governors Association while Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican lawmakers debated how to respond to the company’s giant spill of coal ash sludge into the Dan River.
In four payments from June to December 2014, Duke sent the Republican Governors Association a total of $3,0
50,000 – more than 10 times its previous record donation to the RGA. Duke’s contributions made it the top corporate donor to the RGA in 2014 and the second largest donor, behind the $3.5 million given by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands.
Duke says its gives to both political parties to advocate for its customers and shareholders. It can’t dictate how the RGA uses its contributions, the company said.See, just business as usual—supporting incumbents, five of whom are Republicans—no big deal. (For what it’s worth, McCrory’s spokesman told the Observer that he wouldn’t dignify questions about Duke’s influence-purchasing.) Perhaps. Or maybe, Duke really, really wants to keep Pat McCrory in the Governor’s Mansion, because Pat McCrory will be more beneficent toward them than Roy Cooper.
Duke said contributions to the association increased as three Republican governors in its territory, which grew to six states in a 2012 merger with Progress Energy, ran for reelection in 2014. Five of the six legislatures are controlled by Republican majorities.
“This had nothing to do with anything about Dan River,” spokesman Tom Williams said. “We don’t supply funds on any individual issues. We typically mirror the nature of our service territories, which favor incumbents.”