Sunlight On Public Utility Commission Agreement Dies, Brown’s Fingerprints On Bills’ Corpses

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Santa Monica, CA — Yesterday, as a state court ruled Governor Brown’s emails in a utility scandal could not be made public because the Superior Court had no jurisdiction, Brown reneged on an agreement made this summer to create such court review.  AB 2903 and SB 1017 mysteriously died on the last night of session with objections from PUC President Michael Picker, a former Brown aide, being the public face of the holdup, and Brown’s office emerging as the likely assassin for the legislation, Consumer Watchdog said today.

“The Governor is the only one with the motive and means to stop this legislation, which had the full backing of the legislature,” said Liza Tucker, author of Brown’s Dirty Hands. “By double crossing the public and the legislature, Brown has kept his own emails in the utility scandal out of the public light. He rescued himself from the scrutiny of a Superior Court to which he had agreed to submit earlier in the summer.”

Public interest attorney Mike Aguirre had petitioned the Superior Court to compel the PUC to comply with his Public Records Act request to disclose emails with the Governor’s Office over a secret deal to put most of costs of closing the flawed San Onofre nuclear power plant onto ratepayers.  The Appeals Court ruled, “We emphasize that the merits of Aguirre’s Complaint are not before us, and in reaching our decision that the superior court had no jurisdiction, we do not address the merits of his underlying claims or his PRA request.”

AB 2903 and SB 1017 would have established that review and subjected the case to the new law.

To read the ruling, see:

Brown’s Dirty Hands found that the Governor and the Democratic Party collected nearly $6 million from the three investor-owned utilities in close proximity to actions taken on their behalf. Emails revealed under the PRA showed Brown and his aides intervened in the picking of PUC Commissioners desired by the utilities, decisions made by the PUC to build unnecessary plants, and protecting assets like Sempra’s Aliso Canyon.

In another instance, according to an email released under the PRA and written by Brian Cherry, former top lobbyist at Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Brown pressured a PUC commissioner to cast a key vote in favor of a new natural gas-fired power plant called Oakley. Cherry wrote that he was reminded by former PUC President Michael Peevey that, “Jerry’s direct plea…was decisive.” An appeals court would later strike down the PUC decision because the utility had not proved the plant’s necessity.

For the email, see:

“The public deserves to know what Governor Brown knew about the utility scandal and when,” said Tucker. “The legislature should not take this double cross lying down.”

For more, see the Brown’s Dirty Hands report:

Watch the Brown’s Dirty Hands video:

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Liza Tucker
Liza Tucker
Liza Tucker is a consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog, following everything from oil and gas to the regulation of toxic substances in the state of California. She comes to us from Marketplace, the largest U.S. broadcast show on business and economics heard by ten million listeners each week on 400 radio stations. Liza worked at this public radio show for a decade, first as Commentary Editor and then as Senior Editor for both Washington and Sustainability News.

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