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Updated: Invenergy lawyer donates to Melissa Murray’s Senate District 24 campaign



Updated September 1, 2pm:

At-large Woonsocket City Councilmember Melissa Murray, who is running as a progressive Democrat for the open Rhode Island Senate District 24 seat, has accepted a $150 donation from Attorney Elizabeth Noonan. Noonan works for the law firm Adler, Pollock and Sheehan and serves as one of the lead attorneys for Invenergy, the company that wants to build a $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant in the midst of the pristine forests of northwest Rhode Island.

In January of 2017 Murray was one of only two Woonsocket City Councilmembers (along with fellow Democrat Christopher Beauchamp) to vote in favor of selling the City’s water to Invenergy to cool the turbine’s of their proposed power plant.

Invenergy lawyers have been very generous in Woonsocket, donating thousands of dollars to Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt around the time the water deal was being pushed through. See here and here.

When my campaign team was planning my first fundraiser we pooled a list of names of invitees,” wrote Murray in response to my query. “Some of those names came from Senate leadership, who has endorsed my candidacy. Her name was on that list. My ‘suggested’ donation was $75. I received her check by mail and assumed it was for two tickets. Honestly, I was unaware of her connection to Invenergy and have not spoken with her personally as she did not attend.”

The list Murray received from Senate leadership was “fairly large list and was very diverse,” in that the list did not seem focused on any particular agenda, and consisted of printed labels.

Mark Cote, a Democrat who currently holds the District 24 Senate Seat, is not seeking re-election. Murray faces Democrat Carol Frisk is the September 12 Democratic Primary and the winner will face Independent candidates Michael Disney, Glenn Dusablon and Richard Garrepy in November’s General Election.

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[Update September 1, 10am: Carol Frisk has apparently dropped out of the race.]

At a town hall style meeting in Burrillville, Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor Aaron Regunberg was questioned about his support of Murray, given her strong support for Invenergy’s power plant. Regunberg said he was unaware of Murray’s vote and promised to bring it up with, which he did, according to Murray.

“I watched that,” said Murray. “I thought that he knew about my vote but obviously he didn’t and I believe him.”

[Edit 5:17pm: An earlier version of this post mistakenly identified Senator Cote as a Republican. This is has been corrected.]

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.