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Monday, September 07, 2009

PIN-to-PIN Communication to Skirt Sunshine Laws

Three aides to a Florida utility regulators repeatedly sent private PIN-to-PIN Blackberry codes to an utility executive, which could allow the utility to communicate with the regulators out of public view and without a paper trail.

A St. Petersburg Times blog states:

"State law prohibits PSC commissioners from discussing a pending rate case with utility officials but it specifically excludes PSC staff from the ban. A 1991 grand jury report recommended that the statute be changed to close that loophole but it was never amended.

PSC rules forbid staffers and commissioners from discussing certain types of commission business out of the public eye with those who appear before the regulatory panel. Under state law, a commissioner who engages in such discussions -- called 'ex parte communications' -- and who fail to report them could face a $5,000 fine and even removal."

For the full report, click here.

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