PUC head broke no laws, independent investigation finds
Investigators concluded that the former chairman's
relationship with an attorney for AT&T might have created
the appearance of a conflict of interest.
By Mark Brunswick
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
An independent investigation has determined that the former
chairman of the state Public Utility Commission probably
broke no law in his relationship with a telephone attorney
but that he might have created an appearance of impropriety
by giving her gifts and talking with her on the telephone
for hours. Greg Scott's relationship with AT&T attorney
Mary Tribby "certainly raised red flags," but there is no
evidence that they discussed material issues during pending
cases, a report released Tuesday concluded.
"There is reasonable cause to believe that this undisclosed
close friendship might well have resulted in a conflict of
interest for Scott. It must certainly have been difficult
to simply overlook this relationship in his role as a
decisionmaker with the commission," the report concludes.
Scott's relationship with Tribby is the subject of scrutiny
by AT&T competitor Qwest, which has suggested that the
relationship might have affected PUC decisions that
adversely affected Qwest, including a record $25.9 million
fine assessed against Qwest by the PUC.
The PUC, the state's utility regulatory board, separately
requested an investigation into Scott and Tribby's
relationship by two independent investigators.
The report documents the relationship between them, which
included dinners alone and extensive communications. While
both acknowledged that their relationship was both
professional and personal, they denied that there was a
sexual relationship. The report said there is no evidence
to substantiate or refute their denials.
The report said Scott and Tribby were aware of the
prohibition on what is known as ex parte communications, and
they deny that they talked about issues being considered by
The investigators concluded, though, that there is
reasonable cause to believe that Scott's actions affected
public confidence in the commission.
Doug Kelley, Scott's attorney, said his client was pleased
with the conclusion that there was no ex parte
communication, since that was the only allegation that could
carry a penalty with it.
The PUC is likely to rule on the case later this month
Executive Secretary Burl Haar said.
Mark Brunswick •