California utility commissioner said he didn’t know commission regulates wireless companies

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Associated Press

(12-18) 11:42 PST SAN FRANCISCO (AP) —

A member of the California Public Utilities Commission who invested $10,000 in one of the nation’s largest wireless communications companies said he did not know the PUC regulated the industry.

Consumer rights advocates have gone to court to get Henry Duque removed from the commission. He has served for four years.

In court Monday, Duque said he did not believe it was a conflict of interest when he bought 700 shares of Nextel Communications in 1999.

He said he did not know Nextel was a wireless company.

“I thought, gee, that may have something to do with telephones,” he said. “I had no idea what they did.”

And he said: “My feeling was that we don’t regulate wireless companies.”

State law prohibits commissioners from having a financial interest in companies they regulate.

Duque did not try to hide the investment, disclosing it on state conflict-of-interest papers. None of Nextel‘s minor business transactions was affected by Duque’s investment because the deals were approved with mostly majority votes from the five-member commission.

Duque sold the stock last year after a newspaper reporter asked him about it.

Consumer Watchdog
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