Monday, August 23, 2010

Pepco’s Money

Maryland politicians are trying hard to out-bluster each other on Pepco’s poor service quality. But let’s remember that an electric distribution system does not collapse overnight – it degrades over a period of years. And what have the politicians been doing during those years?

Why, taking Pepco’s money, of course!

Pepco’s PAC is one of the most active in Annapolis and has contributed on the local level too. Pepco has also contributed directly from its corporate treasury – as it is allowed to do under Maryland election law – and has even thrown in a few contributions from its subsidiaries. But that is not all. Its executive team, in-house lobbyists, Board of Directors and their spouses have contributed even more than that and make regular appearances at all the right fundraisers. Altogether, we have traced 672 state and local Pepco-related contributions from 1999 through January 2010 totaling $278,830.06 (and there could be more). Wouldn’t that money be better used for fixing the power lines?

Here are the top ten recipients of Pepco money across the state.

Here are the top ten recipients of Pepco money in Montgomery County.

And here are the top ten recipients of Pepco money in Prince George’s County.

The key to understanding some of the above contributions is to understand that electricity legislation moves through the Senate Finance Committee and the House Economic Matters Committee. Montgomery County’s Rob Garagiola is a key player on Senate Finance. Prince George’s County Delegate Dereck Davis is the Chair of House Economic Matters. Montgomery Delegates Brian Feldman and Charles Barkley and Prince George’s Delegate Michael Vaughn are House Economic Matters members. The two Governors, the County Executives, Big Daddy and his top lieutenant, scandal-plagued Prince George’s Senator Ulysses Currie, are obvious recipients of any corporate money.

So here’s a prediction, folks. While election season is on, the politicians will squeal and Pepco will cower. But as soon as the election ends, the next fundraising season will begin and Pepco will greet the state legislators with open arms (and checkbooks). And then talk of reform will die down and the problems will “go away.” Until next summer.