CPUC won’t release evidence given to state, federal criminal investigators

by Steve Blum • , , ,

No perp walk for Peevey. Yet.

The California Public Utilities Commission wants to hold onto documents it delivered to state and federal investigators looking into possible illegal backroom dealings between former commission president Michael Peevey, a former Pacific Gas and Electric company lobbyist and, potentially, others. That’s the gist of a draft decision released yesterday that would, if approved by the commission next month, reject a public records disclosure request from a San Diego trial lawyer.

On the one hand, the draft is a straightforward explanation of grand jury secrecy. On the other, it details how the CPUC delivered two disks full of evidence to a state criminal grand jury and also cooperated with a federal criminal investigation. The draft confirms what’s already been widely reported: federal and state prosecutors launched criminal investigations into how Peevey handled the CPUC’s response to a fatal PG&E gas line explosion in San Bruno…

The Commission received grand jury subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco, which had a joint task force with the [California] Attorney General. The federal and state grand jury subpoenas overlapped on subject matter. The U.S. Attorney’s Office specifically admonished that disclosure of any of its issued subpoenas or the Commission’s response could impede or obstruct its investigation. It directed the Commission not to disclose the subpoenas or its response to any third party, including [California public records act] requests, for the indefinite future. Since the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s investigations overlapped, the task force included state prosecutors, and the documents sought in the state grand jury subpoenas are similar to those covered by the federal grand jury subpoenas, the Commission cannot disclose the subpoenas or its responses. Doing so could impinge on the integrity of the criminal investigations.

The draft confirms that a major focus of the criminal investigations is “how and to whom various cases were assigned to administrative law judges”.

Peevey ended his 12 year stint as CPUC president in 2015. So far, neither investigation – California or federal – has resulted in any criminal charges.