CPUC Rules to Live By

By Published On: May 15, 2004

No rules exist to recuse or disqualify a state regulator in a given case, according to Terrie Prosper, California Public Utilities Commission press secretary. However, there are parameters for ex parte communications (lobbying). Written ex parte contacts are allowed at any time, as long as communications to decision makers are disseminated to all parties. In ratesetting proceedings, the commission can ban oral or written ex parte communications on substantive issues 14 days before a draft decision regarding the case is scheduled for a vote. If the decision is held, the commission may permit these communications to resume for the first half of the ?hold? period and prohibit them for the second half. In any quasi-legislative or policy proceedings, ex parte communications are permitted without restriction or reporting requirements. California?s 1974 Political Reform Act established conflict-of-interest rules. Commissioners shouldn?t be involved with decisions in which they have a direct profit interest. Assets and income of public officials that could be materially affected by their official actions should be disclosed. These rules apply to public officials with the ability to make or influence decisions. Whether the law applies to consultants, investment managers, and advisers is a gray area. ?Influencing? is broadly defined to cover any appearance before or contact with the agency or agency officials.

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