San Jose Mercury News
SACRAMENTO – One day after revealing that he had improperly accepted more than $2,000 in free parking at San Francisco’s airport, the president of the Public Utilities Commission won legislative support Wednesday for his work leading the regulatory body.
The Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously to back Michael Peevey, a former executive with Southern California Edison, as head of the commission.
Gov. Gray Davis named Peevey to the commission last year, and the state Senate — which has a year to confirm such appointments — delayed action until this week.
At the hearing, consumer advocate Doug Heller said Peevey had broken the public’s trust by taking the improper gifts and urged the committee to reject his appointment.
But Peevey received backing from a variety of groups, including some environmental advocates who praised his work on the PUC.
In a mandatory report filed earlier this week, Peevey admitted that he had accepted $2,134 in free parking at San Francisco International Airport. State law prevents commissioners like Peevey from taking more than $340 in gifts each year from a single source.
In his filing and before the Rules Committee, Peevey claimed ignorance of the law and vowed never to let it happen again. Peevey said he had requested special parking because he was going through chemotherapy after invasive lung cancer surgery, and continued to use it afterward “on an infrequent basis.”
Despite the mea culpa, Heller urged the committee to reject Peevey’s appointment.
“There is no room for anything but a squeaky clean commissioner, and Michael Peevey is not squeaky clean,” Heller said before the Rules Committee voted 4-0 to support Peevey.
After the hearing, Peevey berated Heller in the hallway, telling him he “had no humanity.”
The full state Senate is expected to vote today on Peevey’s appointment. The position pays $117,818 annually.
Contact Dion Nissenbaum at [email protected] or (916) 441-4603.