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Indiana utilities commissioner fired after ethics probe

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has terminated state utilities chief David Lott Hardy for allegedly allowing an agency official to continue presiding over a Duke Energy Corp. case even after talking with the utility about a job opportunity.

“In short, he [Daniels] will not tolerate even the appearance of impropriety,” said a memo to state agency heads from David Pippen, Daniels’ general counsel.

The governor in an announcement Tuesday morning said he was immediately replacing Hardy with Jim Atterholt as chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Atterholt serves on the IURC and is the state’s former insurance commissioner.

The firing of Hardy follows the recent departure to Duke’s Plainfield office of Scott Storms, an administrative law judge for the IURC. Storms was presiding over a handful of cases involving Duke, including matters involving cost overruns at Duke’s Edwardsport generating plant.

Storms and Duke previously sought an advisory opinion from the state ethics commission on whether Storms would be subject to a one-year cooling-off period from employment at Duke. The ethics commission said the cooling-off period didn’t apply to Storms, but rather to IURC commissioners involved in direct decision-making.

Critics, including the Citizens Action Coalition, said Storms, even as an administrative law judge, made critical decisions, such as whether or not to admit key evidence in utility cases.

Pippen said an internal review found that Storms was communicating with Duke about a job even while he was presiding over administrative hearings concerning Duke.

"Additionally, the agency head (Hardy) was aware of the communications and did not remove the lawyer from matters for which the lawyer was now conflicted,” Pippen told agency heads.

He added: “I wrote a letter to the IURC explaining the governor’s interpretation of the spirit and intention of the ethics reform he spearheaded when he came to office.”

Moreover, Daniels has directed that administrative opinions over which Storms presided will be reopened and reviewed “to ensure no undue influence was exerted in the decisions.”

It was not immediately clear which Duke cases those involved.

Daniels also directed that a one-year cooling off period for decision makers is to be considered for those at the administrative law judge level, as well.

Further, the administration said it has referred the matter to the Inspector General to determine if any laws were broken or whether misinformation was presented to the Ethics Commission.

 

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  • Mr. Reporter
    I would love to hear a real report explaining the comments below. The time delay, Mr. Coats, Mr. Mays and his neice and all of these other ethical concerns. Someone should speak out. The inspector general needs to resign or deal with these!
  • WIN!
    Jim gets the WIN for best comment and summary of Indiana politics and crony capitalism at it's finest...
  • Smells like Dead Fish
    Can we fire the Worthless Inspector General?
    What has happended to Bales and Brizzi? If you will recall Bales who had a Fiduciary Duty to the State was handing out State Leases (NO BID) to his buddy Brizzi...

    I have had enough of the Midget and his cronyism... Our State and Local Governments are ran like a Banana Republic...
    • The Gaming Commission Ethics Too?
      Maybe the allowance of state appointed officials receiving 40 year contracts after they resign from a commission and 70 days later the Gaming Director solicits the AG, the IG and Dept. of Administration to over step standard contract obligations and allow the state appointed official the contract award and then the wealthy state appointed official now contractor is allowed to default TWICE and still has the contract fits in with Mr. Daniels needed attention as well.

      All the while the newly appointed state contractor was evaluating the other applicants before he was awarded the contract.

      Another state appointed official was paid for his land so the new contractor could build a golf course for his rich friends.

      Quid pro quo????? Ethics violations???? Rico??????

      Smells real bad and is far greater malfeasance than Mr. Coats.

      Wake up Indiana. The State Legislature knows all about it, so does the media and all the good ole boy attorney's in Indianapolis.
      A former judge now director should know better!
    • Clarion Has Connections
      BMV Leader Ron Stiver Moving to Clarian

      http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?id=33127
    • Uncle and Niece Too!
      Seems like I remember a Mr. Mays(Mays Chemical) told a niece about a Sun stockholders meeting and she later cashed in on a stock deal involving the bank sale. She was recently appointed to the utility commision. They both were fined by the SEC I recall. Seems Mr Mays is also on the board of Vectren.Don,t think his niece appointed by the Gov to the Utility commision could have a little bit of conflict of interest too, do you ? Lets just keep it all in the family. Mr Mays said it was no big deal, the thousands they made, that the SEC had bigger fish to catch and shouldn't have bothered investigating them. No wonder we don,t trust any gov't employees.
    • The Best Money and Influence Can Buy
      Mitch's replacement sure comes long after the parties have been in talks. Seems everyone knew this except for the Gov. But then again, is it not how the game is played. Pretend to be ignorant, then appear to be outraged, but in the end, the money is in the pocket, the influence has been had, and the guilty can feel good about themselves.
      • Scotty flashback
        I remember when Scitty was scared of his own shadow, back when he was in law school and finally got himself a girlfriend for the first time (she wasn't exactly attractive...)

        Gotta hand it to him, watching and learning grim the best, Mitch.

        Ps, ever gonna return the stolen $$$, Shorty?
      • What Has The Inspector General Ever Done?
        Maybe the Inspector General should look at many of the top Daniel's administators who are cashing in.

        Former Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Karl Browning has been named president of The Schneider Corp. Seems Schneider does a lot of business with the state.

        http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?id=42068

        OMB Director Ryan Kitchell is now Vice President and Treasurer at Clarian Health. Seems Clarian is on a building spree backed by taxpayers and gets a tidy FSSA reimbursement kicker.

        http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?id=43151

        Many more if you really want to know.
        • Dear Self-interest:

          Your comment was not related to the article and shows a lack of understanding of the situation. If you feel that Mr. Coats prior employment should bar him from being a senator, don't vote for him. Seems like you own self interest in the election results is clouding your judgement.
        • Daniels vs. Coats
          This is exactly the scenario that defines the difference between people like Mitch Daniels and people like Dan Coats.
        • Self-interest
          So Daniels replaces a government official who has demonstrated his-self interest above the interest of the citizens of Indiana. Will he replace Coats if Coates is elected as the next Senator for Indiana? Of course not; he won't have the authority. But if Coats is elected (as the polls now indicate) the citizens of Indiana will have elected an individual who has been working for his "self-interest" as a lobbyist for others. How can this be?

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