A dispute that arose after the Public Service Commission chairman met with an executive involved in a pending utility merger case has prompted consideration of new PSC ethics rules.
The PSC will consider changes to its code of ethics in light of criticism that arose when PSC Chairman Jeff Davis met with an executive of Aquila about its proposed merger with Kansas City Power and Light. Davis insists the meeting tried to get to the bottom of the issue and was part of his investigative function as a member of the PSC, which regulates the state’s utilities.
Critics contend, though, that Davis was doing public business behind closed doors. Davis asserts he did nothing improper and that the meeting was secret; that several people knew about it. Still, he has recused himself from the case.
Public Counsel Lewis Mills sees nothing innocent in the meetings Davis and other PSC members had with utility executives in Kansas City. Mills contends Commissioners Connie Murray, Robert Clayton and Lin Appling should recuse themselves as well, because they have had similar contacts with executives involved in the Aquila case. Mills says the case, as is, shouldn’t move forward, but should be re-submitted. His request to dismiss the case has been denied.
Mills, and other consumer-interest groups, propose a more open process, with notices given about such meetings and transcripts created.
Davis has said he is interested in similar changes. He wants to settle on a proposal he can submit to the governor and the legislature.