Tuesday, November 12, 2013

IURC Still The Best Commission Public Utility Companies Can Buy

Nobody gets to serve on the Indiana Regulatory Commission who is not bought and paid for by the public utility companies. The fact that the commissioner former Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed to replace David Hardy after he was fired for having an unethical relationship with Duke Energy executives is leaving her job after less than three years to accept a high-paying job as corporate counsel for the MISO in Carmel speaks volumes. Kari Bennett will begin her new job on November 22 and our Inspector General David Thomas says it's all kosher.

The Star's John Russell reports that Bennett refused to answer questions about her new job, including when she began those discussions. The Carmel-based MISO represents 40 public utility companies, including every Indiana utility subject to the IURC's jurisdiction. It manages the electrical grid system throughout the Midwest and part of Canada. The Inspector General approved Bennett taking the job based upon her assurances that she would not be lobbying the IURC or other state executives during a one-year cooling off period.

Incredibly, when Russell sought a copy of Bennett's request for an ethics opinion and the Inspector General's response to it, he was told that they were not subject to public disclosure. When the IURC announced her resignation last Friday, the agency said nothing about the new job she was taking. After the Star pressed the agency for copies of Bennett's letter and the agency's response, it finally agreed to release both documents.

Gov. Mike Pence will be filling two appointments to the IURC before the end of the year. You can take it to the bank that the people he appoints to the commission will be stooges for the public utility companies. It's the way it has always been in this state. It's a ticket to wealth to get a seat on the IURC. People appointed to the commission are always rewarded handsomely for rendering decisions favorable to the utility companies. The public utility companies handpick who the governor appoints to the commission, regardless of which party the governor belongs.  Until there is a major public corruption investigation that results in keys officials of the IURC being sent to prison, we will never have an independent regulatory agency that gives a damn about utility consumers in this state. It is the most corrupt public utility commission in all of America.

UPDATE: An interesting observation that should be noted about Kari Bennett's employment history prior to her work in the Daniels administration. She worked as an attorney for Barnes & Thornburg's Indianapolis office before joining state government. As a result of that prior work, she had to recuse herself from participating in the controversial Rockport case because Barnes & Thornburg represented Vectren in the case. The firm's website boasts, "In recent years, we have appeared in hundreds of proceedings before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission." The law firm has also represented Midcontinent ISO in employment law matters. It's a small world.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget the IURC's Chairman Jim Atterholt! All of you out there should ask Paul Ogden about just how ethical Atterholt is! It is time for the people of Indiana to rise up and throw out the corrupt stooges in both political parties! Let's Rock!

Unigov said...

And look at the "diligence" on the part of the IURC with the Indpls Water Company deal.

It was plain-as-day illegal to transfer the sewer division to the weird entity the General Assembly created. Doesn't matter, cause the IURC is a collection of puppets who do as they're told.