The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has a week to respond to Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s subpoena for communications from Oklahoma Corporation Commission staff during the 2021 winter storm and the months that followed. It is part of his ongoing investigation into alleged market manipulation of natural gas prices during the storm.
He issued the subpoena earlier in the month after Commissioner Bob Anthony continued pressing his claims of wrongdoing over the commission’s approval of securitization and ratepayer bonds that allowed major utilities to spread storm costs over a quarter of a century.
The subpoena covered at least two of the corporation commissioners because they took part in the 2-1 vote when the approval of the funding method was made. At the time, Drummond said the subpoena was part of his ongoing investigation into the market manipulation that allegedly occurred leading to historic high natural gas prices for utilities.
Drummoned stated at the time the subpoena was “in the public interest that an investigation should be made to ascertain whether an unlawful restraint of trade and other unlawful activity took place.” It also came days after he warned Commissioner Anthony to either provide proof of his claims or to stop making the public allegations.
Anthony responded with a letter of explanation in which he told Drummond the proof had been given to him when Drummond was a candidate for Attorney General. He had given Drummond a packet of information about his claims. Anthony also informed the AG that he had met with two of his Assistant Attorneys General and gave them the same material and documentation.
Drummond had no public response until about a week later when he issued the subpoena of the full Corporation Commission. Anthony responded with 48 hours and submitted more than 4,000 email communications from his office computer as well as a personal computer.
The three commissioners plan a discussion of the subpoena response when they meet Tuesday afternoon. The agenda includes portions submitted by Commissioner Anthony who raised several questions including “who is expected to produce documents responsive to the CID (Civil Investigative Demand) and how has that been determined?”
Anthony wants a discussion whether all past and present commissioners with state government emails in the date range are included. The date range of the subpoena was from Feb. 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.
Commissioner Kim David informed OK Energy Today she didn’t have to respond because she was not a commissioner at the time of the approval of the Winter Storm securitization which allowed PSO, ONG, OGE and Summit Utilities to spread the cost on ratepayers for up to 25 years.
The securitization was approved by the commission on a 2-1 vote with Todd Hiett and former Commissioner Dana Murphy voting for approval and Commissioner Anthony opposed. It is unknown whether Murphy was subpoenaed and the Attorney General’s office declined to discuss whether others, in addition to the sitting Commissioners and the agency’s staff, were also subpoenaed.
Other questions raised by Anthony for the Tuesday discussion include whether everyone has been identified as to receipt of the CID and whether the OCC Office of Legal Services is providing the same legal advice to everyone expected to produce documents?
Anthony also wants to know if anyone outside of the Attorney General’s Office will have access to what is turned over under the CID? He could be referring to the Oklahoma City law firm hired by the Attorney General to handle expected legal action in Drummond’s promise made last May to recover billions of dollars for ratepayers.
The Commission meeting will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.