The Oklahoma Supreme Court has given a surprise Stay to the consumer’s group waging a battle to overturn a nearly 29-year old bribed Corporation Commission vote on a Southwestern Bell Rate hike.
In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme court requested the stay sought by Oklahomans Against Bribery. It was a brief court order that suspended the “effectiveness of the mandate” as originally ordered when the court ruled in December 2017 not to order the commission to reopen the controversial decision.
“The mandate shall issue, but its effectiveness is stayed until the expiration of time to file the petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court or notice of final disposition by the United States Supreme Court,” stated the order dated Feb. 5, 2018.
Justices Doug Combs, Noma Gurich, Yvonne Kauger, James Edmondson and Tom Colbert were in the majority.
The three justices who voted against granting the stay were James Winchester, John Reif and Patrick Wyrick.
In short, the Oklahoma Supreme court justices are giving the consumers time to file their appeal to the highest court in the land. The request for the stay had been opposed by the Oklahoma Attorney General and AT and T, the company that took over Southwestern Bell following the 1989 bribed vote.
The ruling in December came after the Corporation Commission voted 2-1 last year not to reopen the case. Commissioner Bob Anthony was the lone vote in favor of reopening the matter.
It was in 1989 when the commission on a 2-1 vote, again with Commissioner Anthony dissenting, agreed to a settlement with Southwestern Bell to reinvest $30 million from a federal tax tax. But as it turned out, then-commissioner Bob Hopkins had been bribed by a SW Bell attorney. Working undercover with the FBI, Anthony made secret tape recordings that led to Commissioner Hopkins and attorney William Anderson being sentenced to federal prison.
In recent years, Commissioner Anthony and a group of consumers have challenged the bribed vote, claiming it should never have been allowed to stand. But they have been opposed by ATT as well as Oklahoma Attorneys General. Oklahomans Against Bribery contend state consumers are due an estimated $16 billion dollars from ATT. As OK Energy Today reported, weeks after the December decision, the group announced it would be filing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.