A day after her husband was criticized for holding a conference call that included investment bankers with an interest in Northeast Utilities, the National Republican Congressional Committee called upon U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty to return $3,500 in campaign contributions from Northeast Utility executives and lobbyists.

In a statement last week, NRCC spokesman Ian Prior said “Elizabeth Esty needs to wake up. From starring in a commercial for Nancy Pelosi’s SuperPac to taking money from executives and lobbyists of a company that receives favorable treatment from her husband, Esty’s first few months in Congress have been marked by a complete lack of common sense. Esty owes it to her constituents to immediately return all contributions from Northeast Utility employees and lobbyists.”

It’s not the first time such a call has been issued. But instead of ignoring it, Esty’s campaign decided to give back the donations.

“Through her 2012 and 2014 campaigns, Elizabeth has received strong support from thousands across Connecticut and across the country, including many leaders in the environmental and energy fields who recognize her record and her knowledge on these complex issues,” an Esty campaign spokesman said in a statement. “In the interest of ending an unnecessary distraction, Elizabeth is returning $3,500 in contributions from NU employees.”

Throughout the 2012 campaign Esty said the donations from NU executives had nothing to do with her husband.

“I’m not going to say I’m not going to accept support from people who’ve known me for a long time and support me and my policies,” she said during an interview with WNPR’s John Dankosky. “I’m not my husband. I make my own decisions. I always have. Welcome to the 21st century.”

Republican Mark Greenberg, a potential Esty opponent in 2014, said the decision “speaks volumes about her character.”

In a statement, Greenberg said she returned the donations “not because she knows it was wrong — but because the controversy surrounding the donations became too politically hot to handle.”

Greenberg said, “Ethics should not be subject to a political ‘upside/downside’ analysis. The fact that it took two years for Esty to return money from Northeast Utilities lobbyists and executives delivers a clear message about her character and ethical composition — anything goes until she can’t get away with it.”

Meanwhile, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty admitted he probably shouldn’t have participated in the call last week with UBS investors.

“In retrospect, I should have stepped back from the call,” he told CTNewsJunkie in a phone interview last Wednesday. “I didn’t mean to get ahead of the legislative process.”

And while it may have delayed the vote this week, Sen. Bob Duff, who chairs the Energy and Technology Committee, anticipates a vote on the controversial renewable energy bill this Wednesday.