PGE Lobbyist Cherry Gets Immunity, Bad for Brown?

Pacific Gas and Electric executive Brian Cherry, whose prolific emailing exposed a corruption ring at the Public Utilities Commission,  has received immunity from the US government as it prosecutes its case against PG&E for obstruction of justice in the wake of the San Bruno gas explosion in 2010.
 
We'd anticipated the news when Cherry appeared on the witness list for the Justice Department, and wondered at the time whether Cherry was now free to sing about the Brown Administration's role in the cover-up over San Bruno and about PUC corruption.
 
The only problem is that requires someone asking Cherry the questions about Brown and his Administration's involvement.
 
California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently allowed the three year statute of limitations for conspiracy to obstruct justice to expire without filing charges against former PUC president Michael Peevey over his role in the scandal over the decommissioning of San Onofre Nuclear Power Station, to the benefit of former employer So Cal Edison and detriment of ratepayers.  The statue of limitations ran out in March.  She was moved out of the PG&E obstruction case by the US Justice Department when she similarly sat on her hands in that prosecution. Harris has shown that is she unwilling to represent the public in prosecutions that defy the Brown Administration and upend Democratic allies at the PUC. 
 
The Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating the failure of Brown's top aide Nancy McFadden, a former PG&E Sr. VP, to properly disclose her stock in PG&E. But the FPPC said there was "insufficient evidence" to proceed with an investigation of a conflict of interest violation despite emails between Cherry and Peevey fingering McFadden as the Governor's go-between to appoint a pro-utility commissioner who would raise PG&E's stock price.  That's likely because there is a five year statute of limitations and the email evidence, though pointing to a broader role for McFadden, came from early 2011, just outside of the statute of limitations.  CW is still conducting its investigation for more evidence to provide the FPPC about McFadden's lobbying role. Nonetheless, the FPCC should contact Cherry about McFadden's role, given his new-found immunity.  But will it?
 
District attorneys are also able to bring inquiries into PUC corruption and the Brown Administration role that could involve Cherry's knowledge if it's not part of the US goverment's prosecution.  But how many of the Democrats would buck their governor? And how many Republican prosecutors would worry about their budgets?
 
In a Democratic-controlled state, it's hard to find a public official with the courage to investigate the top Democrat's Administration. Even when a witness like Cherry, under the protection of immunity, is free to clear the air about the corruption that's hung over the PUC and cost ratepayers billions of dollars in overcharges for San Onofre, pipe maintenance that was never documented at PG&E, and countless other injuries.
 
As the PUC's role in the Porter Ranch debacle grows, and exposes even more PUC crimes against the public, we will see if a public hero emerges with the courage to call Cherry to the stand before grand jury and say what he knows about Brown.

Capitol Watchdog is owned and operated by nonprofit Consumer Watchdog. For more information about Consumer Watchdog visit http://www.consumerwatchdog.org

 
 

Privacy Policy

  • Tel: 310-392-0522
  • Email: Contact [AT] CapitolWatchdog.org