United Illuminating (UI): One of biggest donors to Mayor Finch’s effort to undermine democracy in Bridgeport

True the $10,000 donation from United Illuminating to Residents for a Better Bridgeport occurred before Hurricane Sandy hit.

And true an extra $10,000 wouldn’t allow a substantively different response by UI to this natural disaster.

But with 41,794 UI customers still out of power as of 11:00 a.m. today – November 3rd, 2012, – a week after the storm hit, the symbolism is – let’s just say – shocking!

UI is a Connecticut public utility company; it provides a public benefit so it is regulated by the State of Connecticut.  It exists because we, the people, allow it to exist.

Here we are, a state in which 10 percent of the people are unemployed and nearly 1 in 5 are unemployed, underemployed or have given up looking for work. And UI, a company with some of the highest electric rates in the nation is siphoning off money to play politics in Bridgeport.

Next week we’ll investigate and learn whether the money they donated to undermine democracy in Bridgeport was “shareholder funds or “rate-payer funds, but quite frankly, the point is irrelevant.

The fact is we have a Connecticut Public utility company – taking Connecticut resident’s hard-earned money – to fund an effort to take away one of the most important American rights we have – the right of self-governance.

It’s time that our elected officials tell us what they are going to do about this outrage!

Click here to see the latest UI Outage map

On Oct. 29, 2012, UIL Holdings Corporation (NYSE: UIL), the company that owns UI,  announced that its Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.432 per share on its Common Stock at today’s Board meeting. This dividend is payable January 2, 2013 to shareowners of record at the close of business on December 19, 2012.

Oh, and on a related note, on October 29, 2012, as the storm closed in, Thelma Albright and William Murdy, both UI Directors, cashed in stock for $51,571 and $27,697 respectfully,

Finally, UI’s Board of Directors includes the following people.  If you happen to see one, ask them…. So, what about that $10,000 donation to Residents for a Better Bridgeport?  Is undermining democracy a position supported by the entire board?

UI Board of Directors  

Thelma R. Albright

Former President, Carter Products Division, Carter Wallace, Inc.

Arnold L. Chase

Member of the Board of Directors and President, Gemini Networks, Inc.; Executive Vice President, Chase Enterprises

Betsy Henley-Cohn

Chairperson of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Cohn & Son, Inc.

Suedeen G. Kelly

Partner, Patton Boggs L.L.P.

John L. Lahey

Non-Executive Chair, UIL Holdings Corporation; President, Quinnipiac University

Daniel J. Miglio

Former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of SNET Corporation and Southern New England Telecommunications

William F. Murdy

Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, Comfort Systems USA

Donald R. Shassian

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Frontier Communications Corporation

James P. Torgerson

President and Chief Executive Officer, UIL Holdings Corporation; Chief Executive Officer, The United Illuminating Company

  • Castles Burning

    Excellent research and I look forward to learning more about where the money came from within UI. I know little about the role of board of directors, yet it would seem that they are taking on a public responsibility when agreeing to this role within a public utility company.

    What are the rules and practices for public corporations and hospitals donating to political efforts? Do we know how “common” a practice this is in the state or elsewhere? These monies should be overseen and recorded, but you have done a fine job of demonstrating how in the past not much attention has been paid to the laws about disclosure of spending for political campaigns. Is this a new “low”?

  • Linda174

    With all the possible organizations and causes to give to, how would these groups, companies, etc. have known to give to this Finch front group?

    Wouldn’t they, most likely, have been approached and “convinced” and by whom?

    Can that be determined? Can city employees do this as a part of their job/work time?

    Who are the shysters for Bill’s power grab?

    Shyster: : a person who is professionally unscrupulous especially in the practice of law or politics.

    • LaurieLima

      Thanks for the definition “Shyster: : a person who is professionally unscrupulous especially in the practice of law or politics” Until this very moment I did not know we had an overall term for them or just how many there actually were! Thank you for the clarification, it helps!

  • jschmidt2

    I consider it no different than a public employee unions using their funds to play politics. It is wrong. But the rate approvals are a mess. They are totally political and shouldn’t be. They should be based on need and reasonable profit for the shareholders. The rates are always held down and that can affect planning for improvements and outages. Malloy wants to dictate their restoration deadllnes, but then criticizes them for increasing rates.It is a perfect world for the politician since he wins if they fail and forces them to fail by not giving them the resources. It isn’t working. I would forbid all utilities and unions from donating to political causes. The DPUC is political. So the utility can’t win and we lose because they can’t plan long range.

    • jonpelto

      This one we’ll agree to disagree. I just opt out of my union and they can’t use my money for political activities. I don’t see the line on my electric bill that says – reduce my bill by $200 a year and opt me out of your political activities. Sent from my BlackBerry please excuss typos

      • jschmidt2

        Agree with you about not seeing the line item on your electric bill. But dropping out of union means dropping your job if it is unionized. I don’t think you can just stop paying the union dues. This is not a right to work state. Thanks for the response.

        • Linda174

          Not accurate…from my experience…you have to pay the local/ state, but you can pay a reduced rate and opt out of the national. People in my building do that every year. And I don’t believe money was ever used to support a craftily worded referendum designed to fool the disenfranchized into giving up control of their PUBLIC schools. Also, we don’t have out of state billionaires and their edupimps or Rheejects manipulating the misinformed.

        • jschmidt2

          thanks for the info.

        • Linda174

          You’re welcome….I hope you and your family are safe and healthy. God bless.

        • jschmidt2

          Thanks- all well here- thanks for asking. This article proves your point: http://www.columbialawreview.org/labor-speech-corporate-speech-political-speech/ can opt out of political contributions, just can’t opt out of costs of doing union business.