Tuesday, October 12, 2010

E-Mails Show Clubby Relationship Between Daniels IURC And Duke

It's no wonder Gov. Mitch Daniels moved quickly to get out front of the storm brewing over Duke Energy's hiring of the IURC's top lawyer, Scott Storms. E-mails obtained by the Star show the state's top regulators and Duke Energy were making light of his impending job offer and the ethics review that would attend Storms' hiring. John Russell shares some of the more damning e-mails in a story today that were exchanged between him, IURC Chairman David Hard and top Duke officials all while Storms was still handling a big Duke case on behalf of the IURC:

"I am still working the 'you' issue with Duke mgt," said the e-mail from Michael W. Reed to Scott Storms, general counsel of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. "Don't sense a concern about making this happen, rather more of an issue of when and how. Call and [I'll be] glad to elaborate." . . .

In early September, Hardy and Storms joked about the State Ethics Commission's review of Storms' plan to accept a job with Duke. "It was impressive that you did not laugh during the Ethics hearing," Storms wrote in an e-mail to Reed and Hardy.

The same day, Storms asked Hardy and Reed whether they would serve as references for a company background check conducted by Duke Energy Indiana's parent, Duke Energy Corp., based in Charlotte, N.C.

"I added both of you," he wrote in the Sept. 10 e-mail. "I hope this is OK."

Reed shot back: "Absolutely not." Storms replied: "Uh oh. . . " and Reed quickly made it clear he was joking. "Well ok. :)" he wrote . . .

Hardy, for his part, fired an e-mail back to Storms: "Attending the Ethics hearing and not laughing is more credit than is in your account." . . .

Still, Duke executives in North Carolina had joked about Storms' hiring process along the way. On Sept. 17, as they were awaiting the results of Storms' company drug test, James Turner, a group executive and president of Duke's U.S. Franchised Electric & Gas division, wrote: "I'm still waiting on mine. There is concern about a history of delusion-inducing substances." . . .

According to the June 27 e-mail between Hardy and Storms, talks apparently had been under way for a while, judging from Hardy's comment that he was "still working the 'you' issue" with his superiors. The subject line of that e-mail simply read "Update."

In the meantime, Storms would continue to work on Duke cases. On July 28, Storms signed an IURC order that proposes that Duke recover billions of dollars in costs for construction of the Edwardsport plant from customers and earn incentives.

Russell's story doesn't mention it, but if memory serves me correctly, James Turner, the North Carolina Duke official mentioned in one of the e-mail exchanges, is a former IURC employee like Storms and Reed. Gov. Daniels was no doubt tipped off about the e-mail exchanges before the documents were turned over to the Star, which explains why he moved so quickly to fire Hardy. It is interesting why the Star has taken such an interest in this case while it has ignored so many other revolving door cases, particularly involving key members of Mayor Greg Ballard's administration.

Make sure you read all of these e-mails here the Star obtained for this story. It is disturbing to say the least. Storms and Hardy are so clearly in bed with Duke Energy folks. There needs to be a criminal investigation. It's that bad.


Marycatherine Barton said...

It is so IS that bad! The evil creeps!! Thanks so much for all your hard investigative and reporting efforts, Mister. I will be sending you another contribution, for Christmas, smile.

Citizen Kane said...

The sad thing is that people do not realize that many of our elected and appointed officials are literally snickering at the buffoons they pretend to represent, while they engage in every flim-flam imaginable as they self-deal their way to prosperity and play us for chumps. And we are really good at being chumps.