Today Jim Hood and Brandon Presley put the screws to House Speaker Billy McCoy who put the screws to Tyrone Ellis. They all tried to put the screws to the House of Representatives, but the Speaker lost the vote. He’s going to try again tomorrow.

What issue could be so important that it would be brought up in committee today, forced out, and forced to the floor?

House Bill 1090 failed a key procedural vote this morning. Ellis tried to get the House rules suspended to fast track the bill to the floor.

Hood, Presley and Ellis were all in lockstep for the cameras. Ellis and Presley were desperately trying to dull the fact that they wanted the Legislature to undo things that were a direct result of corruption at the PSC in the early 1990s. Fox 40 news has the story and the video and the video is definitely worth watching. Notice who is circulating behind the camera.

Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley wants to control the Public Utilities Staff again.

Plus, Sid Salter has weighed in on the historical context of why the public utilities staff was expressly removed by the Legislature from political control of elected regulators like those of the Public Service Commissioners.

Presley and Posey are right in that the commissioners were much more powerful in terms of controlling the PSC staff before former seven-term Northern District Commissioner D. W. Snyder of Eupora was convicted of a total of 10 counts of extortion, filing false tax returns, bribery, and conspiracy charges back in 1989.

Snyder was convicted of extorting money from two independent telephone companies and a trucking firm regulated by the Commission. Snyder contended that this money consisted of voluntary campaign contributions.

He was also convicted in a complicated bribery scheme in which Snyder arranged for the PSC’s approval of a company’s rate increase if the company would agree to business transactions favorable to Snyder and his coconspirators.

Snyder was also convicted of accepting money directly in exchange for influencing the PSC’s official actions and of failing to report as income the money he received through extortion and bribery.

In reaction to that scandal, the Legislature in 1990 passed Senate Bill 2679, which mandated a reorganization of the Public Utilities Staff. The “old” Public Utilities Staff was abolished and the “new”” Public Utilities Staff was established as a completely separate and independent entity from the elected PSC and its now much smaller, weaker staff.

Under the new law, the executive director of the Public Utilities Staff is appointed to a six-year term by the governor, not the commissioners, and that director hires all Public Utilities personnel.