Butler's inclusion on Malloy's 22-member transition team was an interesting move. He is a Republican who served under President George W. Bush as a senior attorney-adviser in the Department of Justice, and was close to the GOP's 2010 gubernatorial nominee, Tom Foley. In fact, the day after the 2010 election, when a winner hadn't yet been declared in the Malloy-Foley contest, Foley announced that Butler would be one of the two co-chairman of his own transition team.
Transition teams are part substance and part symbolism; they come up with policy positions and evaluate potential appointees in the two months between Election Day and the launch of a new gubernatorial administration.
"I was invited to serve on Governor Malloy's transition team, and was honored that he asked me to participate in that process. I believe greatly in public service," Butler said in an emailed reply to Courant questions on Friday. He is unrelated to CL&P president Jeffrey D. Butler, who became a familiar figure in recent news briefings about power restoration efforts.
Two consulting relationships are worth mentioning from recent years, the fresher involving Occhiogrosso, Malloy's senior adviser.
The same political and public-relations consulting firm — Global Strategy Group, based in New York with an office in Hartford — has done paid worked for NU, CL&P and Malloy's 2010 election campaign. For several years ending last December, Global's Hartford office was run by Occhiogrosso. Then, when Occhiogrosso quit to take his current job in the governor's office, Global hired an NU communications executive, Tanya Meck, to take his place in Hartford.
What significance is there in this interlock of personnel, politics, consultants and clients? According to Occhiogrosso, none.
"It doesn't mean anything," he said. "It's a big company in a small state — doesn't mean anything."
Occhiogrosso said that Global's polling research for CL&P has gone on for years, and was always handled out of the New York office. He said he started work at Global in 2003, and he believed that Malloy's dealings with Global went back beyond that, to when Malloy was Stamford's mayor.
Meck said that NU's current status as a client of Global is only about a year old, and began when she quit NU to replace Occhiogrosso. NU did not refill her position — in which she assisted Marie T. van Luling, NU's vice president in charge of communications, such as public relations and advertising — and instead had Meck continue assisting van Luling in her current consultant's role at Global.
Occhiogrosso and Meck are friends. Both worked in Democratic staff roles at the Capitol in past years — he for Senate Democrats, and she for House Democrats. Meck also served for a time as spokeswoman for former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz during the latter's unsuccessful attorney general campaign last year.
Asked if she gains any advantage for NU in dealing with the state as head of Global's Hartford office, Meck said: "I'm flattered that you asked that question. But I can tell you that that is not my role."
One other consulting relationship involving NU and a Malloy administration figure already has made news in 2011: In the past two months, The Courant disclosed that Malloy's appointee as head of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Daniel Esty, was paid $205,000 by NU as a consultant from 1997 to 2005.
Also, earlier this year, four NU executives gave a total of $2,000 to the 5th Congressional District campaign of Esty's wife, Democrat Elizabeth Esty, public records show.
Esty's department includes the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, which has launched an investigation of its own into CL&P's handling of storm-related problems.
He has said in the past that his past consulting work for the company will not impair his ability to handle NU-related matters, and that he did not solicit the contributions that NU made to his wife.
NU's political action committee, along with Butler and other NU executives, have been contributed tens of thousands of dollars in recent years to the campaigns of congressional candidates in Connecticut and other states.
For example, NU's PAC contributed $5,000 earlier this year to 5th District U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy's 2012 campaign for Connecticut's Democratic U.S. Senate nomination after giving him $6,000 for his 2008 House campaign and $10,000 for his 2010 House effort.
It's also given $19,000 to 2nd District U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney's campaigns since 2008, $4,000 to 3rd District Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro in that same period, $11,500 to 4th District Congressman Jim Himes, and $7,000 to 1st District U.S. Rep. John Larson.
Those PAC totals are exclusive of many thousands more in donations from individual NU employees.
Officeholders who receive donations invariably insist that the money doesn't affect their actions. On Nov. 4, four of Connecticut's five U.S. House members — all except Larson — and the state's two U.S. senators asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate CL&P and NU over their performance during and after the Oct. 29 snowstorm.
Jon Lender is a reporter on The Courant's investigative desk, with a focus on government and politics. Contact him at email@example.com, 860-241-6524, or c/o The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115 and find him on Twitter@jonlender.