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Kathy Castor Offers Bill to Stop Utility Companies From Using Ratepayer Dollars for Political Spending

Florida Daily

By Kevin Dirby

This article originally appeared in Florida Daily.

At the end of July, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., introduced a bill to “prohibit utility companies from using ratepayer dollars to fund political activities, including the use of ‘dark money’ to fund ‘ghost candidates’ and undermine the public interest.”

Castor’s office pointed to companies across the country as to why she offered the proposal.

“Numerous scandals and criminal prosecutions across the country involving electric utility companies, bribery and the use of ratepayer dollars for political purposes demand action. In Florida, damning reports uncovered a well-documented scheme led by affiliates of Florida’s largest electric utility company, Florida Power and Light (FPL), to fund ‘ghost candidates,’ hire private investigators to follow journalists and influence news coverage to mislead voters and influence the outcome of elections. In Ohio, a massive electric utility-led bribery scandal led to racketeering prosecutions surrounding illegal payments instigated by First Energy. And not to be outdone, Commonwealth Edison in Illinois agreed to pay a $200 million fine to resolve a federal investigation into bribery connected to the House Speaker. These utilities often are caught trying to halt the expansion of cleaner, cheaper energy like solar power,” Castor’s office noted.

“Electric utilities should be prohibited from using ratepayer money to bankroll their political slush funds. FPL used shady tactics and dark money to hijack elections, mislead voters and steal elections, and it is time for it to end,” Castor said. “In fact, the numerous public corruption scandals involving electric utilities across the country require federal action immediately. Utility companies should be operating in the best interest of ratepayers, not raising electric bills to bankroll deceitful political activities and block clean energy.”

U.S. Reps. Jamal Bowman, D-NY, and Sean Casten, D-Ill., are co-sponsoring the bill.

A host of groups, including the Alliance for Affordable Energy, Catalyst Miami, the Center for Biological Diversity, Environment America, Florida Conservation Voters, Florida For All, Florida Rising, Public Citizen, Rewiring America, and Small Business Utility Advocates are backing the proposal.

Castor’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.


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