TECO Energy Inc. has spent nearly $600,000 on lobbying services and campaign contributions during the past year and a half as the Republican-controlled Congress wrestles with the hotly debated issue of deregulating the $208 billion electricity industry.
But officials at the corporate parent of Tampa Electric Co. are quick to argue that these contributions, which cannot be distributed to individual political campaigns, were not intended just to influence national public policy on deregulation.
The contributions are part of a larger strategy to ensure all of the parent's diverse interests are heard at the same volume as its well-heeled competitors, the company says.
"The bottom line is we're proud to be a very active supporter of the American. political process," said TECO spokesman Mike Mahoney. "We're a large corporation with an abundance of issues that will affect different subsidiaries of TECO Energy.
"We have a major water transportation business. We have a natural gas business and we obviously …