Commissioners Won’t Support Anthony inReopening Bribed Vote Rate Case

“There is bribery and corruption.” Commissioner Bob Anthony.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission chairman Bob Anthony was unsuccessful Thursday in convincing the two remaining commissioners they should reopen a nearly 25-year old Southwestern Bell rate case that was tainted by the bribery of a sitting-commissioner. Commissioners Dana Murphy and Todd Hiett would not join him in a motion to reopen what is historically known as PUD 260 rate case where Southwestern Bell was allowed a massive rate hike on a 2-1 vote. One of the two voting for the hike in 1989 was Bob Hopkins, a commissioner who later went to prison for accepting a bribe from a Southwestern Bell attorney, William Anderson. He too served a stint in federal prison.

Anthony wanted to act on a motion filed by six consumers who asked that the case be reopened, after the case went to the State Supreme Court in 2014 where the justices ruled they had no jurisdiction to reconsider the rate hike and offered no legal opinion on the bribed vote. That’s when Commissioner Anthony and the six consumers made a move to return the case to the Corporation Commission but Attorney General Scott Pruitt sided with ATT, now the corporate owner of Southwestern Bell in opposing them.

“Why is it up to an outside attorney, an outside individual to come ask us to correct our problem?” asked Commissioner Anthony as he subtly tried to convince the remaining commissioners to take a stand against corruption. “Right now, I’m not talking about the six applicants to this case. I’m talking about us. We have a constitutional duty to do something. There is bribery and corruption.”

Commissioners Murphy and Hiett didn’t agree with him.

Murphy told Anthony she could not participate in such a vote and would not give a ‘nay’ or ‘aye’ to his motion to reopen the matter.

“We already have 7 motions before us on this matter and I think we should focus on what’s been presented. I don’t think we should handle this on a piece-meal basis,” she told Anthony. “I just cannot participate in this motion.”

“I also will not participate,” said Commissioner Hiett. “I think it’s premature at this time to take such an action until we can determine if we do have jurisdiction.”

Anthony attempted to persuade them to change their mind and even ask for an FBI undercover tape that was used in the corruption trial of Hopkins and Anderson. The tape was played only for the jury and never was released to the public. Murphy and Hiett would not support that move as well.

“I guess the latest polls showed that public confidence in government is at an all time low and I think that’s probaby because there’s a lot of government officials that shirk their duties and don’t do what they’re supposed to do,” he continued. “The six people that are involved as applicants in this matter, two of them are former employees of this agency, both of whom were here in the period of time when bribery, corruption and wrongdoing were a part of life.”

It wasn’t enough to convince Murphy and Hiett to support Anthony. But Hiett suggested that perhaps a constitutional expert could be brought before the Commission to discuss the legality of reopening the case.

The Commission has yet to rule, as Commissioner Murphy pointed out, on several motions made by ATT and Attorney General Pruitt to dismiss efforts to review the bribed-rate case. Pruitt not only sided with ATT when Anthony and the six consumers went to the State Supreme court last year, he joined the utility’s efforts months later in Anthony’s attempts to resurrect the case before the Corporation Commission.

As an investigation by OK Energy Today revealed, Pruitt received more than $44,000 from four dozen ATT executives in campaign contributions to his re-election bid in 2014, weeks after he fought the original legal move before the Supreme Court. The contributions were made even though Pruitt was running unopposed.

(Read Oct. 22, 2015 original story.)

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