The Brooklyn Union Gas Company dollops grants to nonprofit organizations around its home borough, but a Brooklyn weekly reported last week that BUGCO wants its beneficiaries to express their gratitude by backing the utility’s controversial merger with the Long Island Lighting Company.
A BUGCO community development officer implicitly threatened to pull a substantial grant from a local group if the organization’s director didn’t sign a form letter to State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver backing the merger. The “unnerved” nonprofit director–who refused to give his name–said the gas company official indicated his grant would be “look[ed]….at differently” if he refused to sign the letter, according to Matt Sweeney of Brooklyn Paper Publications.
The merger, which has run into significant opposition from Long Islanders dubious of rate-cut claims, is due to come up before a state commission later this year. The support letter hailed the merger as “the best plan to deal with the high-energy costs in this region.”
BUGCO officials did not return City Limits calls on Friday, but they told Brooklyn Paper Publications that the letter-writing campaign involved no coercion and was simply part of an “educational process.”