Assemblywoman Nora Campos sent a scathing letter to Public Utilities Commission President Mike Peevey late Monday, taking him to task for accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and travel from industry-backed nonprofits and special-interest groups since 2007.
Peevey reported these gifts and trips in his statements of economic interests, filed with the state as required by law. But Campos, D-San Jose, criticized Peevey for not giving a full explanation of the trips.
“While foreign travel for public officials is legitimate and can offer unique opportunities for gathering knowledge, the sheer number and length of your trips are clearly outside of the bounds of reasonableness and undermine the spirit of the rule that permits such trips,” she wrote.
Campos wrote that reports of Peevey’s alleged exorbitances come amid widespread criticisms of the PUC for cultivating “a terribly lax safety culture” and “cozy relationships with industry officials.” The PUC also has created programs without proper legal authority, engaged in questionable contracting and ethical activities, made significant budget mistakes, and more, the lawmaker charged.
“This latest controversy cements my belief that the time has come for you to reform the culture you have enabled so that the PUC can restore the public’s confidence. People must know that there are real changes being made,” Campos wrote. “But it must begin with an understanding that the public’s skepticism grows when the top PUC official is accepting lavish trips and gifts from the very utility industry the PUC is charged with overseeing.”
Peevey and a PUC spokesman didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment Tuesday.
Peevey first was appointed to the PUC by former Gov. Gray Davis in March 2002; former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in December 2008 reappointed him to another 6-year term, to which the state Senate confirmed him a year later.