While Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is widening his winter storm market manipulation investigation with a subpoena of the Corporation Commission and its entire staff, Commissioner Bob Anthony responded Thursday by supplying nearly 4,000 emails and communications regarding the controversial issue.
Anthony issued a statement indicating that he provided communications less than 48 hours after receiving the Attorney General’s “Civil Investigative Demand.” The demand asked the three commissioners and commission employees to produce “All internal and external Communications Relating To Winter Storm Uri, utility securitization, and the like, from February 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.”
Some of the 4,000 emails reportedly included communications sent by Commissioner Anthony on his personal computer in addition to one in his Commission office.
Response letter filed here: https://acrobat.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:1bb8a8f8-d16e-4db7-972a-4f251731f310
The subpoena came after Anthony responded last month to a letter from the Attorney General in which he told the Commissioner to either supply communications and documents regarding his allegations of suspected wrongdoing over the billions in high natural gas prices during the 2021 winter storm, or to stop making the allegations.
As OK Energy Today has reported previously, Anthony explained he had already provided the information to Drummond when he was a candidate for Attorney General and to two Assistant Attorneys General. The AG had demanded Anthony provide the emails that “appear to show OCC employees colluding with utility company staff to massively inflate estimates given to lawmakers” as well as emails that “appear to show a utility company executive colluding with the Deputy Treasurer for Policy and Debt Management to rig a state RFP.”
Anthony immediately responded to that request with a four-page letter and 18-pages of attachments on November 1 (https://public.occ.ok.gov/WebLink/DocView.aspx?id=14150530).
After this week’s subpoena, Anthony and Commission Chairman Todd Hiett issued statements showing their support of the Attorney General’s growing investigation.
“I am pleased to learn of the Attorney General’s interest in the full scope of wrongdoing surrounding 2021’s Winter Storm “Uri,” including possible collusion between utility company employees and people ostensibly working for the State of Oklahoma. I agree whole-heartly with the Attorney General’s July assessment that Oklahoma ratepayers are paying the price on their utility bills for billions of dollars of “ill-gotten gains” obtained by bad actors through conduct “well outside the parameters and boundaries of ordinary capitalism, said Anthony.
Hiett also responded with a statement about complyingwith the Attorney General’s subpoena.
“There is a coordinated group effort underway to provide the Attorney General with the requested material from all concerned at the agency. The goal is to make sure all bases are covered and all material needed by the AG for his investigation into natural gas pricing as related to Winter Storm Uri,” Hiett said in an email to OK Energy Today.
At last word, Commissioner Kim David’s office had not responded to a query from OK Energy Today.
Anthony has been a critic of the securitization act since it was enacted by the Oklahoma legislature within weeks following the 2021 winter storm Uri. He openly said at commission meetings as well as in filings with the commission that there is evidence to suggest “unlawful conduct” surrounding what he labeled as the “securitization savings’ scheme invented to cove up iresponsible, even shady business dealings during the winter storm.”
In his press release, Anthony stated again that in his duty to “correct abuses,” he as been “obstructed at almost every turn.” He explained that his requests for records from the Corporation Commission made more than a year ago “remain incomplete or altogether non-existent.”
Meanwhile the very existence of the Attorney General’s subpoena raised more questions which remain unanswered. OK Energy Today raised them to the Attorney General’s office, including whether the Oklahoma Treasurer’s office had been subpoenaed and whether former Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy, who voted to approve the securitization, had been subpoenaed. Questions were also asked whether the Attorney General had included subpoenas to some of the utilities who received securitization bonds that allowed billions of dollars in historic natural gas bills to be passed along to ratepayers over the next 20-25 years.
The response from the Attorney General’s spokesman, Phil Bacharach was that the office would not be addressing suboenas or other materials part of an active investigation. He offered the statement issued on Wednesday.
“Attorney General Drummond promised Oklahomans he would do everything in his authority to hold accountable bad actors who raked in billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains. These efforts remain ongoing and will continue until proper relief for ratepayers is secured.”