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Now the Attorney General Is Investigating UCAN

Recently, the board of watchdog Utility Consumers' Action Network wrote a letter to its co-founder, Michael Shames, demanding that he return $474,000 that he took as bonuses on intervenor fees the organization was awarded for participation in matters of the California Public Utilities Commission. The UCAN board's letter to Shames was based on an interpretation letter it received from the California Attorney General's office. Charles Langley, a UCAN employee who as one of two whistle-blowers brought irregularities to the board's attention, wrote the Attorney General for a copy of the letter under the Public Records Act. Tania Ibanez of the AG's office wrote Langley denying the request because "the records you seek are confidential records related to our investigation" of UCAN, she wrote. It is not clear what that investigation is about. UCAN is also under criminal investigation of the U.S. Attorney's office, and will have to go through a state-mandated audit.

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Recently, the board of watchdog Utility Consumers' Action Network wrote a letter to its co-founder, Michael Shames, demanding that he return $474,000 that he took as bonuses on intervenor fees the organization was awarded for participation in matters of the California Public Utilities Commission. The UCAN board's letter to Shames was based on an interpretation letter it received from the California Attorney General's office. Charles Langley, a UCAN employee who as one of two whistle-blowers brought irregularities to the board's attention, wrote the Attorney General for a copy of the letter under the Public Records Act. Tania Ibanez of the AG's office wrote Langley denying the request because "the records you seek are confidential records related to our investigation" of UCAN, she wrote. It is not clear what that investigation is about. UCAN is also under criminal investigation of the U.S. Attorney's office, and will have to go through a state-mandated audit.

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I would be far more worried about the US Attorney than the AG.

Oct. 13, 2012

UCAN's board and hired lawyers made a big pitch to the AG several months before the organization filed for dissolution. There is a lot of concern that the AG's charity wing got fed a line, bought into it, and now wants to get itself off the hook -- and maybe get the UCAN brass off the hook, too. It is possible, however, that the AG is really investigating this matter, rather than assisting in a coverup. We'll have to see. Best, Don Bauder

Oct. 13, 2012
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