Harris Lets Statute Of Limitations On San Onofre Lapse, Defends Brown

California Attorney General Kamala Harris had evidence in her hands that she could have used to bring former PUC President Michael Peevey, architect of the secret San Onofre deal, to justice. And she had plenty of time, three years, to file criminal charges before the statute of limitations ran out on obstruction of justice--the easiest charge to prove.

She had all she needed from a search warrant executed at Peevey's home in September 2015. That's where a California Justice Department criminal investigator working on her behalf turned up damning evidence of an under-the-table deal to put $3.3 billion of the $4.7 billion needed to close the defective nuclear plant onto ratepayers. Hand-written notes, scrawled in Warsaw on Hotel Bristol stationary in March 2013--where Peevey met with a Southern Califoria Edison executive--laid out the numbers. The notes also showed that Southern California Edison would donate $25 million to a UCLA research institute as part of the deal.

"It is...evident that Peevey utilized his position to influence SCE's commitment to millions of dollars to UCLA to fund a research program," according to the search warrant filed in California Superior Court. "The facts indicate that Peevey conspired to obstruct justice by illegally engaging in ex parte  communications, concealed ex parte communications, and inappropriately interfered with the settlement process on behalf of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA. Peevey executed this plan through back channel communications and exertion of pressure, in violation of CPUC ex parte rules, and in obstruction of the due administration of laws."

Six months later, another search warrant was prepared for PUC and SCE offices. But it was never executed. Rather than bring criminal charges against Peevey, Harris let the statute of limitations run out.

“Instead the Attorney General has changed sides and is now representing the Governor in resisting and denying the public access to certain calendar entries and the 67 secret communications between the CPUC and the Governor’s office,” public interest attorneys Mike Aguirre and Maria Severson say in a freshly-filed lawsuit.  They've sued under the Public Records Act to obtain dozens of documents, including emails and calendar entries that could prove Governor Jerry Brown himself participated in the cover up of an unlawful secret deal to put billions of dollars onto ratepayers for the shuttering of San Onofre.

According to the lawsuit, Harris knew in 2013 of allegations that SCE was already unlawfully charging ratepayers for San Onofre. She knew of evidence showing that SCE decided to install flawed steam generators to save money and avoid new safety licensing from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She knew of Senator Barbara Boxer’s call for a criminal investigation, and she knew of Peevey’s secret Warsaw meeting. But she elected to sit on her hands.

Aguirre and Severson are also demanding calendar entries of Brown’s Executive Secretary Nancy McFadden, a former PG&E vice president. Because of our ethics complaint against McFadden at the Fair Political Practices Commission, she’s under investigation for failing to disclose required information about her ownership of up to $1 million in PG&E stock after she joined Brown’s staff. Harris is also blocking their release. McFadden’s emails and calendar entries could show her helping to smooth matters for Southern California Edison on San Onofre, and other questionable dealings with Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric.

Is Harris's conduct only about helping her Democratic friends? Or could all this be because such a lawsuit against Peevey on charges of criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice and defraud ratepayers might confirm in black and white that the Governor himself had something to do with it? After all, emails now public show that in June 2013, officials turned to Brown for help on San Onofre and got him to agree to say publicly that the deal was the sensible thing to do.

It's hard to believe Harris's loyalty to friends is that much stronger than her loyalty to justice.

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