Friday, May 13, 2011

State Ethics Commission Hammers Former IURC Counsel

The Indiana Ethics Commission has imposed a fine of $12,120 on former IURC general counsel Scott Storms and barred him from future state employment after he negotiated and accepted a job with Duke while he was serving as an administrative law judge on a case pertaining to the utility giant. Storms' annual salary jumped from $93,000 to $135,000 after he began his job with Duke last September. He was fired by Duke in mid-December after the IURC and Duke came under fire for the hiring of Storms. The fine represented three times the salary gain Storms realized during his short period of employment by Duke. The Commission found Storms had violated Indiana law by serving as administrative law judge in the Duke Edwardsport plant case and Duke Smart Grid case while he had a financial interest in his prospective employment with the utility company. The Commission also found that Storms violated Indiana law by failing to notify the IURC of his potential conflict, or to seek an advisory opinion from the Commission related to his further participation in the case.

Ironically, the same Commission okayed his employment by Duke within the one-year cooling off period for former employees with the knowledge he had served as an ALJ in those same Duke cases. From its opinion last September giving the green light to Storms' employment by Duke:

This provision would not be triggered by Mr. Storms' work at the IURC as he was neither a commissioner nor a voting member of the regulatory body that may have made license or permit decisions regarding Duke." 
The ethics panel added that Storms would be prohibited from representing or assisting Duke on any matter in which he was "personally or substantially involved as a regulator." Those include several cases involving the Edwardsport plant and Duke's "smart grid."
Imagine if you sought the government's permission to do something before you did it. The government says, yeah, go ahead. A few months later after the proverbial shit hits the fan the government comes back and says we didn't get all the facts nailed down before we gave you approval to do that. We now find you violated the law and you must pay us a hefty fine. I don't have a lot of sympathy for Storms, but I don't have a lot of respect for the Commission's handling of his case. It looks like the Commission is simply punishing Storms now for making it look even more foolish than what it looked when it first signed off on his employment by Duke last September.

1 comment:

rohshack147 said...

Well what do you expect Gary? The ethics commision also whitewashed the Michael Latham and Dick Rhoad incidents at FSSA. They only punished Storms because it came back to bite them in the ass hard. I would be curious to see if Storms appeals his case through the courts. I would love to see the commisioners justify their embarrising about face on the issue.