Pepco gives thousands to dozens of Md. politicians

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Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

Pepco and some of its top executives have given thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to dozens of Maryland's elected officials in recent years, giving the company what some residents worry is excessive influence over state regulators.

Among the top recipients is Gov. Martin O'Malley, who appoints the members of the Maryland Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities like Pepco. In the 2010 election cycle, O'Malley received $4,000 from Pepco Holdings CEO Joseph Rigby, records show. He also got $2,000 from Anthony Kamerick, chief financial officer of Pepco's parent company, Pepco Holdings, and Washington Region President Thomas Graham.

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert and Prince George's counties, received $500 from Graham in the 2006 election cycle and $1,000 from Pepco's political action committee in the 2012 election cycle. And Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown -- who is widely believed to be considering running for governor in 2014 -- received $500 from Graham this year and $250 from him before the 2006 primary election.

Some of Pepco's political contributions in the last several years:
Politician Contribution Contributor
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown $500.00 Thomas Graham (2012)
MontCo Councilman Craig Rice $242.45 Thomas Graham (2010)
Md. Sen. Dereck Davis $250 Thomas Graham (2008)
U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards $1,000 Joseph Rigby (2012)
P.G. County Councilwoman Ingrid Turner $100 Thomas Graham (2010)
P.G. County Councilwoman Karen Toles $100 Thomas Graham (2012)
Gov. Martin O'Malley $2,000 Thomas Graham (2010)
Gov. Martin O'Malley $4,000 Joseph Rigby (2010)
Gov. Martin O'Malley $2,000 Anthony Kamerick (2010)
Md. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. $1,000 Pepco PAC (2012)
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer $1,000 Joseph Rigby (2010)
Md. Sen. Ulysses Currie $100 Thomas Graham (2010)

Miller and O'Malley did not return requests for comment, and Brown's spokesman, Mark Goldberg, denied any influence as a result of the contributions.

Representatives of other state, federal and county lawmakers who received money from Pepco either could not be reached for comment or denied being influenced by the contributions. Pepco officials did not return calls.

"This is how campaigns are funded," said state Sen. Jim Mathias, D-Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties, who received $1,750 from Pepco -- through two PACs -- this election cycle.

The Public Service Commission likewise denied being influenced by campaign funding.

"Commissioners are appointed by the governor for five-year terms, and once they are confirmed by the state Senate, the governor and other state agencies stand at arm's length to them, with no more influence on their decisions than any other party," said spokeswoman Regina Davis.

But Town of Somerset Councilwoman Cathy Pickar, who is helping to lead the new anti-Pepco advocacy group Pack Up Pepco, doesn't buy it.

"The legislators and the Public Service Commission are the only protection between [Pepco's] monopoly and the citizens," she said. "[The funding] affects the voting and, for the governor, the appointments. ... It doesn't matter that it's legal."

Companies like Pepco give money in exchange for access, said Blair Bowie, a democracy advocate with the Public Interest Research Group. "It doesn't buy them results, exactly, but it gives them access to the decision makers so they can push back on issues they don't like."

State Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery County, who has been trying to revive failed legislation that would toughen state utility regulations, lamented the influence funds have.

"Some people are inclined to listen a little more attentively if they are likely to receive a campaign contribution or have received a campaign contribution," said Frosh, who did not receive funding from Pepco. "Campaign contributions open doors."

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

Update: In a statement sent to The Washington Examiner Thursday morning, after deadline, Pepco spokesman Bob Hainey said Pepco Holdings "has no reason to believe that the individual contributions of employees to candidates for elected office have in any way influenced the decisions made by the Public Service Commission."

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