Republican 5th District congressional candidate Mark Greenberg blasted the district’s Democratic congresswoman, Elizabeth Esty, for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from people who work in, or lobby for, the energy and environment industry.
Greenberg was reacting to a Courant Government Watch column that was posted Friday night on the newspaper’s website, courant.com. The column said that some of the tens of thousands that the congresswoman received from around the country were contributed by executives and lobbyists in Connecticut – either people whose energy firms are regulated by the state, or people who have registered to lobby Daniel Esty’s department.
Here is Greenberg’s statement:
\”Nearly two years ago, I called on then-candidate Elizabeth Esty to return any campaign donations she received from companies regulated by her husband, Daniel Esty, in his role as Commissioner of DEEP. Elizabeth refused to acknowledge this blatant conflict of interest until recently when she returned the NU donations under heavy public pressure and media exposure.
\”Clearly, these newly reported donations only make her conflict of interest much worse and more expansive. Rep. Esty should immediately return all of the donations and she should pledge to the voters of the 5th District that she will refrain from taking donations from companies regulated by her husband in the future. This conflict of interest is stunning for how blatant it is. It is an \’in your face\’ conflict of interest.\”
Greenberg has made an early launch of his third effort to win the Republican nomination for the 5th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Esty defeated Roraback in last November\’s election to win her first term — succeeding Chris Murphy, who won election to the U.S. Senate.
Late last month, Elizabeth Esty returned $3,500 in contributions that she had received since 2011 from employees and lobbyists of Northeast Utilities, after the National Republican Congressional Committee demanded she give it back to the donors. More than half of the contributions were the ones that Greenberg said in his statement that he had called on Esty to return, after it was disclosed that she received them at the time.
The NRCC made its more recent demand for her to return the donations during a controversy over Dan Esty\’s participation in an April 23 conference call hosted by an investment firm that had recently upgraded its rating of Northeast Utilities\’ stock — an incident that Dan Esty and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy defended as proper. Elizabeth Esty’s spokesman, Jeb Fain, also said there was nothing wrong in the situation, but said the congresswoman was returning the $3,500 to the NU employees and lobbyists because she wanted to end an unnecessary “distraction.”
In the wake of Elizabeth Esty\’s recent change of heart about returning the NU-related contributions that she had decided to keep two years ago, The Courant asked Fain what the congresswoman\’s criteria are for deciding which among her other energy- and environment-related contributions she will keep, and which she will accept in the future. Fain did not answer that question, and a Courant request to talk with the congresswoman yielded no response.
The Courant left and voicemail and sent an email to Fain seeking comment Saturday morning on Greenberg\’s statement.