Consumer group miffed at bill payments to PUC commissioner

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The Associated Press

A consumer rights group is miffed that the state is paying the legal bills of Public Utilities Commission member Henry Duque after he was sued over investments he made in a company the panel oversees.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a Santa Monica-based watchdog group, sued Duque Dec. 29 in San Francisco Superior Court. The group claimed Duque’s investment in Nextel Communications violated state law.

“The public must have the utmost faith in the decisions of the PUC,” said Pam Pressley, an attorney for the group.

“Commissioner Duque has broken the public trust for his personal gain.”

Pressley said the commission is not required to pay Duque’s legal bills in the matter, but added she knew of no law preventing such payments.

Neither Duque nor California Public Utilities Commission President Loretta Lynch immediately returned calls seeking comment.

Section 303(a) of the Public Utilities Code prohibits commissioners from having a financial interest in companies they regulate.

Consumer Watchdog
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