Senator Hill, Assemblymember Mullin & San Bruno Mayor Ruane Urge State AG to File Charges in Long-Running Probe of Alleged Corruption at CPUC

December 01, 2017

For Immediate Release – Office of State Senator Jerry Hill – December 1, 2017

Senator Jerry Hill, Assemblymember Kevin Mullin and San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane Urge State Attorney General to File Charges in Long-Running Probe of Alleged Corruption at the California Public Utilities Commission

Unsealed Court Documents Reveal CPUC Repeatedly Blocked Investigation Stemming from the Penalty Case in the 2010 San Bruno PG&E Pipeline Explosion and Rate Cases Involving Other Utilities

SAN MATEO – State Senator Jerry Hill, Assemblymember Kevin Mullin and San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane called upon Attorney General Xavier Becerra today to strongly urge that charges be filed as a result of the state’s long-running criminal investigation of alleged corruption at the California Public Utilities Commission.

In a letter sent this morning, the three pointedly note that it has been more than three years since the investigation began—and since they first asked the Attorney General’s Office to pursue charges in the probe that stemmed from the PG&E penalty proceeding in the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion and rate cases involving other utilities.

The letter today to Attorney General Becerra said recently unsealed court documents make an even more compelling case for forceful steps because it is now clear that “the CPUC has been blocking your efforts at every turn.” This has included spending millions in taxpayer money for outside lawyers who, the CPUC claimed publicly, were to help the agency “comply with all applicable legal obligations,” the letter said.

Instead, the CPUC and its lawyers refused to turn over documents, did little to comply with search warrants and subpoenas, and filed motions to quash search warrants. The legal maneuvering and the misrepresentations of how taxpayer money was used were disclosed in records that were unsealed last week.

In addition to their letter, San Bruno Mayor Ruane and Assemblymember Mullin and Senator Hill, who represent San Bruno in the state Legislature, issued the following statements:

“It has been over seven years since the explosion in our community that took the lives of eight innocent citizens,” said San Bruno Mayor Ruane. “Numerous investigations since that time have revealed many troubling deficiencies in the CPUC's regulatory process ranging from lack of appropriate transparency to outright and pervasive collusion and corruption at the highest levels of the agency. It is time for the Attorney General's Office to take action. We cannot continue to wait.”

“Recently unsealed court records show that the CPUC continues to have a significant credibility problem and as a result, the public interest is not being served,” said Assemblymember Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco. “Not only do Californians have to worry about whether or not they are being protected by the entity responsible for regulating public utilities, they also have to worry about how ratepayer dollars are being spent. The collusion and dereliction of duty that came to light after the PG&E pipeline explosion in San Bruno appears to be alive and well and it is imperative that the Attorney General and his staff fully investigate these latest allegations and prosecute them fully.”

“The actions revealed by recently unsealed legal records are deeply troubling,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “They are not what we have come to expect from the CPUC, given its new leadership and stated commitments to transparency and accountability. We have zero tolerance for the incidents that were at the core of the original investigation, and we have zero tolerance for actions that echo past practices by bad actors. We emphatically urge the Attorney General to fully and vigorously prosecute any violations of the law.”

In 2016, a federal jury found PG&E guilty of felony charges for obstructing the federal investigation of the 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that leveled a San Bruno neighborhood and for violating pipeline safety laws before and after the tragedy. In January 2017, a federal judge imposed the maximum $3 million fine on PG&E.

No charges have been filed against the CPUC related to the San Bruno explosion or in the investigations that followed the disaster and unrelated proceedings involving other utilities.

Today’s letter from Senator Hill, Assemblymember Mullin and Mayor Ruane and their earlier letters to Attorney General Becerra and his predecessor are available here:

http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/12-1-17_agbecerraletter_cpuc.pdf

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Media Contacts:
Leslie Guevarra for Senator Hill, 415-298-3404 cell, leslie.guevarra@sen.ca.gov
Susan Kennedy for Assemblymember Mullin, 925-437-2510 cell, susan.kennedy@asm.ca.gov
Connie Jackson, San Bruno City Manager, 650-616-7056 office