Capitol Report: Rep. Esty’s Conflict Of Interest?

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The Capitol Report panel discusses the alleged conflict of interest on the part of U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who accepted campaign contributions from corporations that her husband, Daniel Esty, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, is tasked with regulating.

Esty returned $3,500 in campaign contributions received since 2011 from executives and lobbyists from Northeast Utilities, which is regulated by DEEP, but hasn’t said if she will return other donations.

“Elizabeth is proud to have received support from thousands of people across Connecticut and across the country including many leaders in the environmental and energy fields who respect her record, knowledge, and work on these complex issues,” her spokesman, Jeb Fain, said in an email, concluding: “She returned $3,500 in contributions from NU employees in the interest of ending an unnecessary distraction.”

But Republicans remained critical.

“These donations raise a number of questions: Will Elizabeth Esty return these donations as she did the previous improper donations late last month?” State Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola said in a statement. “If not, on what grounds will she keep the money? Will Governor Malloy instruct his Commissioner to advise companies he regulates to refrain from making donations to his wife because of the strong appearance of impropriety they create? Common sense would tell anyone that this “regulated by one half of the household, while donating to the other half” is a very bad arrangement.

Information contributed from the Hartford Courant Capitol Watch blog.

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