FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Did California’s Attorney General participate in a cover up? Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez has slammed Kamala Harris, her opponent in the race for U.S. Senator, for cronyism and is demanding a Federal investigation of alleged crimes committed by Southern California Edison and top officials at the California Public Utilities Commission.
CONTACT: Charles Langley (858) 752-4600 or Langley@publicwatchdogs.org
California’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris, raised eyebrows in the law enforcement community when she allowed the statute of limitations to expire
for prosecuting alleged crimes committed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and top managers at Southern California Edison (SCE) involving the ratepayer-funded bailout of SCE’s failed SONGS nuclear facility.
Just one month after the media widely reported her failure
to prosecute activities that may implicate Governor Jerry Brown, Harris received a coveted endorsement from Brown in her election bid to replaceUnited States Senator Barbara Boxer.
Critics believe Brown’s endorsement
of Harris weeks after her failure to prosecute may have been a quid-pro-quo for allowing the statute of limitations to expire on the suspected unlawful activities of Jerry Brown and his political appointees at the Public Utilities Commission.
Yesterday, Harris’ failure to prosecute prompted congresswoman Loretta Sanchez to issue a blistering press release
accusing Harris of political cronyism.
The Sanchez press release calls on the Federal Department of Justice to intervene by initiating an independent investigation.
It also accuses Harris of “Burying her head in the sand” along with the millions of pounds of high-level nuclear waste that are slated for a beachfront burial at San Onofre State Beach Park in June of 2017.
Why the case is important to Jerry Brown
Governor Brown’s office has been implicated as a participant in the unlawful bailout of Southern California Edison at ratepayer expense.
According to a Public Records Act request by utility fraud investigators at the San Diego Law firm of Aguirre & Severson LLP , Jerry Brown’s office either sent or received at least 65 emails to the CPUC’s current president, Michael Picker. All of the emails involve details behind a secretly negotiated bailout of SONGS, which resulted in a deal that forced Southern California utility customers to pay an average of $1,600.00 each for the cost of the failed power plant.
In addition to the 65 emails between the Governor’s Office and Michael Picker, there are also 64 matching emails between Picker and executives at SCE. The quantity and frequency of those withheld emails suggests that Picker may have worked as a middleman in secret rate-setting negotiations between Governor Brown and SCE.
The law firm of Aguirre and Severson has sued to gain access to those emails, but all attempts have been thwarted by claims of executive privilege, and the fact that
Harris is also defending Governor Brown’s Office while at the same time investigating his staff and appointees.
Harris remains popular despite judge shopping scandals
Attorney General Harris has a history of failure to investigate alleged criminal activity by utilities and CPUC staff. In the case of the San Bruno pipeline explosion
In the case of the San Onofre bailout, Jerry Brown was recently implicated in the effort to keep his San Onofre emails a secret when his judicial appointee and personal friend for more than 40 years blocked a lower court’s ruling
that would have forced Brown to make his San Onofre emails public. The judge, Anthony J. Kline, was publicly recused
by his embarrassed colleagues. As for Harris, her office volunteered to help prevent public disclosure of the secret emails, putting her staff and herself in the position of investigating Brown on the one hand, while defending him on the other.
Legal conflicts of interest
Generally speaking, law enforcement professionals are not allowed to work as defense attorneys or “run interference” for the people they are supposed to be investigating. But that’s exactly what happened in May of 2106, when Kamala Harris offered her personal help to Jerry Brown by preventing his emails from being publicly reviewed.
Legal scholars have questioned whether or not it is proper for an Attorney General to investigate an alleged crime involving the Governor’s Office, while at the same time defending the Governor’s Office for the same activity.
Why the law forbids secret utility rate setting meetings
At issue is whether or not it is Okay for CPUC judges and commissioners to meet secretly with big utilities for the express purpose of setting utility rates in secret meetings. California law clearly forbids secret meetings, but when the laws are not enforced they are rarely obeyed.
Under California law it is unlawful for CPUC, the California Public Utilities Commission to raise your rates without open public hearings. That’s the law. Period. But in the case of SONGS the rates were set in a secret meeting at a hotel room in Warsaw Poland without public input.
The California Public Utilities Commission is supposed to hold legitimate public hearings before it allows a monopoly utility to increase the cost of your electricity.
In January of 2015, attorney general Harris made headlines when the media reported
that her office had conducted a criminal search of the home of the California Public Utilities Commission’s then-president, Michael Peevey on suspicion of judge shopping at the behest of Pacific Gas & Electric.
The search uncovered evidence showing Peevey had committed criminal acts with two top Southern California Edison employees at a hotel room in Warsaw, Poland for the express purpose of holding secret rate-setting meetings
with his former employer, Southern Califonia Edison.
The documents show that Peevey and the two SCE executives crafted a secret bailout deal for Southern California Edison that would force ratepayers to foot the bill for SCE’s costly and foolish blunders at SONGS.
The meetings were clearly illegal, but the evidence uncovered was even more explosive: handwritten notes seized from Peevey’s home
uncovered a nine-point action plan to prevent public hearings into the reasons behind the failure of the multi-billion dollar nuclear generators.
Why they met in a Polish hotel room
The evidence showed that SCE had recklessly violated Federal rules by installing an unlicensed and unapproved nuclear design at its San Onofre power plant. The evidence further suggested that SCE had intentionally stripped essential safety equipment from the generators in order to improve corporate profits.
Edison’s experimental nuclear generators failed eleven months after they were installed. Peevey and Southern California Edison knew that if the public ever saw that evidence, that SCE — not the ratepayers — would be fully responsible for the costs of the $3.3 Billion failure.
The plan worked. Edison got bailed out … at your expense
As a result of the Warsaw Plan, each customer of Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric was required to pay an average of $1,650.00 in increased electric bills to cover the costs of the utility’s reckless behavior. The public never saw the evidence, because in accordance with the Warsaw Plan, the CPUC
judge, Melanie Darling, terminated the hearings in favor of a secretly-negotiated out-of-court settlement.
The rest is history. Of course that history may never be written as long as our top cop, Kamala Harris, continues to stonewall her own criminal investigation.