TELECOM – Peevey conflict of interest

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Communications Daily

Despite a conflict-of-interest cloud raised by consumer advocates, the Cal. Senate is scheduled to vote next week on whether to confirm Cal. PUC President Michael Peevey’s March 2002 appointment to the agency.

Meanwhile, legislatures in Texas and Alaska confirmed state commission appointments. Peevey’s nomination cleared a key hurdle Wed. when the Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously to

support his confirmation. The Senate must act within a year of an appointment, which means the chamber would vote on Peevey Mon.

The conflict allegations were raised by the Cal. Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights, which said Peevey Mon. filed a conflict-of-interest statement reporting that he had received $2,100 worth of free parking at San Francisco International Airport in 2002. The PUC regulates certain aspects of airport operation as part of its transportation jurisdiction. Cal. law limits gifts to state officials to $340 per year.

Peevey said at the time he wasn’t familiar with the state’s gift rules and said he had sought the parking pass at the airport because he was undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer and was making regular flights from San Francisco, where the PUC is headquartered, to a southern Cal. cancer treatment center. Peevey said he disqualified himself from participation in any PUC proceeding involving the airport and had surrendered his airport parking pass.

But Foundation spokesman Doug Heller said Peevey, as a state official, should have been familiar with the state’s conflict-of-interest rules and criticized him for showing “utter disdain” for state law.

Meanwhile, the Texas Senate unanimously confirmed the appointments of Texas PUC Chairman Rebecca Klein and Commmisioner Julie Parsley. Klein will be on the PUC until Sept. 2007 and Pasley until Sept. 2005. The Alaska legislature confirmed the nominations of Dave Harbor and Mark Johnson to the Alaska Regulatory Commission. Harbor took office in Jan., succeeding Commissioner Patricia DeMarco. Johnson will succeed Comr. Bernie Smith July 1.

Consumer Watchdog
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