Commissioner Esty's Speaking Fees
In 2009, Esty received a $7,500 speaker's fee from United Illuminating, the utility company that supplies electricity to southwestern Connecticut and the New Haven area.
Meanwhile, Esty also received $10,000 fees from two other corporations in Connecticut — UTC Power, a fuel cell company that is part of United Technologies Corp., and ING, the financial services corporation — for speeches about three years ago.
Esty had submitted a recusal list of companies he had consulted for. But his spokesman drew a distinction between consulting and speaking. The spokesman said:
"... There's a real distinction between the kind of relationship you have over time and working closely with the management of a company [as a consultant], as opposed to the one-time 'come in, give a talk, leave' relationship [of speech-making]. It's just very different."
I don't know what the letter of the law says, but in general I buy that argument. On a different scale, I do consulting work and I give speeches, both for money, and to me it's clear. If you're consulting for someone, you are working for them. If you are giving a speech, it's not even remotely the same. it's more analogous to being a freelance writer who is in high demand. Someone pays you for a piece, you write it and submit it, and you move on. Someone calls up you (or your agent), asks you to give a talk, you give it, and you move on. But again, that might not be what the law says.