Duke Energy has been on a political spending spree lately, with an eye toward boosting its dirty energy plan now under debate in the General Assembly and keeping their favored pro-polluter politicians in power, say researchers.
Campaign finance researchers have traced at least $1.2 million in state political spending over the past 18 months to Duke sources. In fact, it is likely far more. These researchers call that amount nothing more than the “tip of the iceberg” of political cash rolling into North Carolina from Duke-connected people and entities. Much of that money is siphoned through untraceable dark money channels which are legally exempt from detailed public reporting.
As an example, Democracy North Carolina founder and former executive director Bob Hall cites Duke Energy executives giving nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to the political group Citizens for a Responsible Energy Future (CREF) since they set it up last year. The group promoted select candidates in North Carolina state elections last year, and has launched more advertising aimed at influencing legislators this year.
State Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) told the Energy News Network (ENN) that CREF’s spending was clearly aimed at influencing the debate around House Bill 951, the secret sweetheart deal for Duke we have previously told you about. “I feel like the campaign contributions element to the passage of this bill was very much present during the debate on the bill — in our caucus and around the halls,” she said. “That’s no way to do the people’s business.”
Our foundation has launched a TV and digital ad campaign holding Duke accountable for its dirty deeds. ENN reporter Elizabeth Ouzts notes, “The ‘robust’ TV and digital buy references the company’s Dan River coal ash disaster and claims that H951 will raise rates ‘on businesses and families like yours.’ It also includes images of campaign finance reports, showing contributions from Duke to House Reps. Dean Arp of Union County and Majority Leader John Bell of Wayne County, both chief backers of H951. ‘The people need to know that,’ [NCLCV Director of Governmental Relations Dan] Crawford said.”