FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana Statehouse Democrats say they want to stop
the revolving door between utilities and state government by having more
investigations and wholesale restructuring amid an ethics flap in the
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
House Speaker Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, and other Democrats in the House
and Senate said they want investigations done by prosecutors and want to
change the structure of the state ethics committee and the regulatory
After learning a commission attorney discussed a job with Duke Energy while
presiding over matters involving a $2.9 billion Duke Energy
coal-gasification plant in southwestern Indiana, Daniels fired the
commission’s chairman and ordered it to reopen opinions on the project.
Bauer and Democrat Rep. Win Moses of Fort Wayne met with reporters Thursday
and said the firing should be the beginning of changes, not the end. “This
calls for greater enforcement of the whole ethics structure,” Bauer said in
Fort Wayne. Moses noted the governor appoints the members of the regulatory
commission, ethics commission and inspector general.
Other Democrats are calling for similar action. State Sen. Bob Deig, D-Mount
Vernon, said that federal prosecutors should investigate to see whether
taxpayers and ratepayers had their interests protected.
State Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, said he’s drafting legislation
requiring the Senate and House to approve nominees to the utility regulatory
commission instead of having the governor simply name commission members.
Daniels said his administration has cracked down on the revolving door
between regulators and industry, and said he doesn’t think what happened is
indicative of a systematic problem. He said changing the way members are
selected to the regulatory commission would have no bearing on the
“It wouldn’t have prevented this. This is bad judgment on two people’s
parts,” Daniels said. “This is not about any other commissioner.”
Daniels fired utility regulatory commission Chairman David Lott Hardy on
Tuesday. The Daniels administration says Hardy knew commission attorney and
administrative law judge Scott Storms discussed a job with Duke Energy Corp.
while presiding over hearings concerning the utility.
Storms left the regulatory commission last month for a new position in
Duke’s regulatory division, and the Indiana Ethics Commission cleared him to
do so under certain limitations.
The hiring prompted criticism from watchdog groups since Storms had handled
matters related to a $2.9 billion coal-gasification plant the utility is
building in southwestern Indiana. Its construction costs are nearly double
the original 2007 estimate.
Duke has placed Storms on administrative leave with pay pending a review by
outside counsel. Also placed on leave pending the review was Mike Reed, who
became president of Duke Energy-Indiana in June, about 16 months after
leaving the regulatory commission as its executive director.
Tim Morrison, the first assistant U.S. attorney in Indianapolis, said
Thursday he didn’t know of any formal request for an investigation having
yet been made to the office.