CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- At a news conference in front of Duke Energy headquarters Thursday, a half-dozen local activists protested the company’s and CEO Jim Rogers’ involvement with the Democratic National Committee.
The sidewalk demonstration was orchestrated by the environmental group Greenpeace and the Coalition to March on Wall Street, an umbrella organization of about 70 groups planning to protest at the Sept. 4-6 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
Greenpeace field organizer Monica Embrey said Duke is aligned with the DNC, the chief fundraising organization for the party.
Duke, which recently merged with Progress Energy to form the largest U.S. utility, has used its size and influence to impact the Democratic Party, Embrey said.
For instance, she noted that Duke had given an in-kind donation of $1 million worth of donated office space for the DNC in advance of the convention.
And as the DNC has struggled to raise money for the convention, Duke extended the party a $10 million line of credit, she said, and Rogers has donated $100,000 personally.
“How is the DNC in the Duke building, and this isn’t lobbying?” Embrey asked.
The protesters also criticized Duke’s rate increases, use of coal and what Greenpeace considers inadequate steps toward renewable energy.
The demonstrators wore issue-oriented buttons and protest T-shirts, wielding banners for sidewalk passers-by.
One hand-painted banner called on Duke to “stop polluting our democracy.”
Rogers co-chaired the “Charlotte in 2012” convention host committee with Mayor Anthony Foxx – a decision he said was motivated by city pride. He also has met big donors at Obama fundraisers nationwide and worked the phones to pitch potential contributors.
“The relationship,” Embrey said, “is just way too cozy.”