Entergy Corporation describes itself as “the second largest nuclear generator in the United States. Among the ten units it owns and operates is the Indian Point nuclear facility in Buchanan, New York.
According to a joint study done by Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, business has been very good for Entergy. Between 2001 and 2003, Entergy’s total profits were three billion, two hundred and seventy million dollars ($3,270,000,000). Through various fiscal adjustments, Entergy managed to lower their U.S. tax rates. In 2003, for example, savings from depreciation and “nuclear decommissioning cut $897 million in taxes. As a result, on the past three years profit of over $3 billion, the study shows that Entergy paid less than $44 million in corporate income taxes. That’s a three-year tax rate of 1.3%.
One of the uses to which Entergy has put this “radioactive money is contributing to politician’s campaigns. The company’s political action committee (ENPAC) has continued Entergy’s policy of spreading money to both parties, in large and small sums, for important and less prominent political races, on the local, state and federal levels.
According to the September 2004 data, nationwide Entergy has so far given $112,049 to federal Congressional candidates on the Republican side and $68,511 to the Democrats.
In New York State, this included $1000 a piece to Vito Fossella, a Republican from Staten Island who sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; John M. McHugh, a Republican from the upstate 23rd district who sits on a House sub-committee on energy policy; and John Sweeny, a Republican from the 20th district (that includes Dutchess County, bordering the Indian Point site) who sits on the House Appropriations Committee. The Democrat Gregory Meeks from the 6th Congressional district in Queens only got $500 from Entergy, but Democrat Edolphus Towns took $2000; Towns, from Brooklyn, is also a member of the House Committee on Energy and Finance.
On the State level, Entergy sent $1500 to the New York State Democratic Committee in January, adding $1000 to the Bronx County Democratic Committee and $600 to the State Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. In February, they gave $1000 to the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and gave the same amount, the next month, to the State Republican Committee. In May, another $1000 went to the State’s Republican Campaign Committee and to the Bronx County Democratic Committee (raising their total to $2000). Entergy contributed another $1000 this August to the State’s Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (for a total of $1600, so far) and another $250 to the Republican equivalent (for a total of $1250).
In individual donations, the State’s Republican Majority Senate leader Joe Bruno is the clear winner. Entergy donated $1000 to Friends of Joe Bruno this past February and, this September, tacked on another $2500 to his re-election committee. State Senator James Wright, head of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, has received $1600. Paul Tonko got $1000; Assemblyman Tonko is the head of the Assembly Energy Committee. Last but not least, New York State Attorney General Elliot Spitzer accepted $1000 from Entergy’s political action committee. Among the Indian Point issues that Attorney General Spitzer has a hand in investigating are: the feasibility of the evacuation plan, the practice of using river water to cool its generators (resulting in a large fish kill), and whether the nuclear plant is being safely managed.
While these are the larger political contributions that Entergy has made in New York this year, the cumulative total of small money donated to local campaigns is even larger and more pervasive. Some $25,000 has been given so far to nearly 60 individuals and companies in the state. These include the following list of political contributions (many of whom received “radioactive money in 2002 and 2003 as well):
State Senator Carl Andrews, minority whip, 20th district –$750
Councilman David Weprin, chairman Finance Committee, 23rd district–$500
Mayor Ernest David, Mt. Vernon–$250
Councilman Donald Bennett, Peekskill–$250
Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, Mt. Vernon–$250
State Senator Carl Marcellino, Syosset–$350
State Senator Malcolm A. Smith, Queens–$250
Sheriff Carl Dubois, Orange County–$375
Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, Washingtonville–$250
State Senator Eric Schneiderman, Upper West Side and Bronx–$250
Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion–$500
Assemblyman Jose Peralta, District 39–$250
State Senator Kevin Parker, Brooklyn–$600
Assemblyman Joe Morelle, Rochester–$350
State Senator Vincent Leibell, Putnam and Westchester–$350
Assemblyman Thomas Dinapoli, Great Neck–$400
Assemblyman Steve Kaufman, Bronx–$600
City Councilman Hiram Monserrate, Corona–$500
Orange County Executive Edward Diana–$300
State Senator Ruth Hassel-Thompson, Bronx/Westchester–$500
County Legislator George Oros, Westchester–$500
Assemblyman William Boyland, Brooklyn–$150
State Senator Dean Skelos, Dep. Majority leader, Rockville Center–$550
Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik, Flushing–$450
State Senator Michael Balboni, Mineola–$500
County Legislator Bob Astorino, North Castle/Mt. Pleasant–$250
Assemblyman Keith LT Wright, Harlem–$500
State Senator Ruben Diaz, Bronx–$475
Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, Queens–$250
Councilman Eric Gioia, Queens–$500
Mayor Joseph Delfino, White Plains–$500
Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, Brooklyn–$500
Assemblyman Nick Perry, Kings County–$300
Councilman Joe Cerreto, Cortlandt Manor–$600
Assemblyman Herman Farrell, Harlem– $500
State Senator John Sabini, District 13–$250
Councilwoman Letitia James, District 35– $500
[Information on contributions from New York State Board of Elections financial disclosure report, as well as the Federal Election Commission.]
DANIEL WOLFF is a poet and author of the excellent biography of the great Sam Cooke, You Send Me, as well as the recent collection of Ernest Withers’ photographs The Memphis Blues Again. Wolff’s Grammy-nominated essay on Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers is one of the highlights of CounterPunch’s collection on art, music and sex: Serpents in the Garden.