Golf gift from DTE lands House energy chair in ethical sand trap
Rep. Joe Bellino received $1,500 to play charity golf, while affordable rooftop solar bill sits
LANSING, Mich. – Rep. Joe Bellino, R-Monroe, has found himself in the ethical rough for DTE Energy sponsoring his participation in a golf event outside of his district this summer – further exemplifying the cozy relationships and conflicts of interest lawmakers have with big utilities they are tasked with regulating.
Gongwer News Service first reported Bellino was able to participate in the Delta Dental Pro-Amateur golf tournament – for the third year in a row – thanks to an in-kind $1,500 donation to his campaign from DTE. Bellino is chair of the House Energy Committee and responsible for oversight of Michigan’s government-regulated monopoly utilities, including DTE.
The Gongwer article comes after the Detroit News on Monday found DTE and Consumers have poured $55 million over just three years into influencing lawmakers with 140 out of 146 Michigan lawmakers receiving money from them, along with other political and civic contributions.
“When it comes to Rep. Bellino, DTE apparently has made a hole-in-one,” said Bob Allison, deputy director for Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “We need someone who swings at DTE and Consumers when the power goes out for nearly 1 million Michiganders – not someone who calls them up when he needs a tee time.”
House Bill 4236 — which would lift a punitive cap on affordable, reliable rooftop solar in Michigan (the only of its kind in the country) — currently sits stalled in Rep. Bellino’s House Energy Committee amid utility opposition, despite bi-partisan sponsorship and the majority of committee members supporting the bill.