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Friday, May 09, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - More on "IURC lawyer asks for relaxed ethics rules"

Updating this ILB post from May 6th, John Russell updates his earlier Indianapolis Star story with this report today headed "Revolving door stops spinning at state agency (for now)." Some quotes:

An attorney with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission cannot take a job at a local water company without a one-year cooling-off period, the state Ethics Commission ruled Thursday.

Gregory R. Ellis, an administrative law judge for the IURC, had asked the commission to give him permission to take a job as director of government affairs with the Indiana American Water Co., based in Greenwood.

In doing so, he was challenging an IURC policy established in 2011, in the wake of an ethics uproar at the agency.

The policy says administrative law judges are decision makers and are prohibited under state law from taking a job with a regulated utility for one year after leaving IURC employment.

But Ellis told the panel he had no authority to make regulatory or licensing decisions. He said his job was to rule on evidence and procedure at rate hearings and to draft orders for the five voting commissioners. * * *

But some members of the ethics panel said they found no compelling reason to overturn the IURC’s policy including administrative law judges under the one-year cooling-off period. The panel voted unanimously against Ellis’ request. * * *

The policy was instituted after Scott Storms left the IURC as chief administrative law judge to take a job with Duke Energy Corp. in September 2010.

Storms interviewed with Duke while participating in a case over whether the utility could charge ratepayers for hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns at its Edwardsport power plant.

ILB: As the ILB wrote in the earlier post: "Perhaps the policy should prohibit IURC decision-making employees from interviewing with companies the agency regulates while employed at the IURC, rather than simply prohibiting them from taking jobs with such agencies within a year after leaving?" It would seem to me that IURC employees never should be seeking or negotiating employment, while employed by the IURC, with entities their agency regulates.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 9, 2014 09:26 AM
Posted to Indiana Government