Oh, yes, NU does ‘encourage’ political contributions

Northeast Utilities last week declined to answer questions for the story we posted Sunday night about the startling turnaround by NU executives on political giving to the Connecticut Democratic Party since Thomas J. May took over as chief executive officer. After giving no more than $1,000 in any previous year, they are well over $50,000 this year.

“We encourage our employees to be active in their communities, and supporting the political process is a natural extension of that,” a company spokesman said. 

The Courant followed up last night with a concrete example of that encouragement: An email request from May sent in September to 48 senior managers, urging them to support Gov. Dannel P. Malloy by donating to the state party. According to Federal Election Commission records, about half responded, contributing $46,500, which includes a $10,000 contribution from May.

May became CEO after NU’s merger with Boston-based NStar, which was completed last year.

Still unclear is whether May was simply inspired one day to make a push for Malloy, or was he approached by the governor or Jonathan Harris, the executive director of the state party? The Democrats’ standard line: They don’t talk about fundraising strategy.

As we reported a week ago, the party is doing very well raising money from state contractors, beneficiaries of state aid and people in regulated industries.

Our analysis of the $1.1 million in itemized individual contributions to the party counted at least $150,000 coming from state contractors; $61,000 from beneficiaries of state aid; $55,000 from employees of a state-regulated utility; $32,000 from a nursing-home industry that relies heavily on Medicaid reimbursements; and $22,500 from lobbyists.