State Senator Jerry Hill—joined by San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson and Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network (TURN)—announced at an April 11 press conference in San Francisco that California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey has accepted gifts totaling more than $230,000 in international travel and spent more than 200 days on these trips since he was appointed commission president in 2003, according to the filing of statements of economic interest with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).
The account of Peevey’s declared travel came a week after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), which contributed to the nonprofit that funded most of Peevey’s trips, was indicted on 12 federal criminal counts resulting from the 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed a San Bruno neighborhood.
Last year, a consultant’s report commissioned by the CPUC revealed that staff members said they do not believe the commission makes safety a top priority and blame a workplace culture that gives regulated industries too much "access to the PUC building, documents and personnel."
Hill’s Senate Bill 831, which addresses several ethics issues, includes provisions that would prohibit elected and appointed officials from accepting more than $5,000 a year in travel-related gifts from nonprofits, and would require nonprofits providing travel-related gifts to disclose to the Fair Political Practices Commission the name of the donors paying for the travel expenses.
Hill also announced that in the wake of the gun-trafficking and bribery indictment of Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, Hill is amending SB 831 to prohibit elected officials from using campaign funds to pay legal bills in criminal cases.