Forest Wright Appears To Be Wholly Owned By The Solar Industry

While the competition might well be fierce, this year’s most dishonest candidate for political office in Louisiana has to be “Republican” Forest Bradley Wright, who’s running for the Public Service Commission seat in suburban New Orleans against incumbent Eric Skrmetta.

Yes, the Hayride supports Skrmetta in that race. We are not objective observers. Let’s get that out of the way. Skrmetta advertises here, and he’s been a personal friend for several years. He’s also quite good at his job and has the results to prove it; Louisiana boasts some of the lowest electricity rates in the country while utility companies in the state manage profit margins above the national average. That shows the PSC is, on the whole, functioning as it should – which is rare for a regulatory body in this day and age.

Skrmetta has been under attack by Wright for taking compaign contributions by companies regulated by the PSC, which sounds like it’s a terrible thing until you understand that (1) every member of the PSC has done so for as long as anyone can remember – and nobody is a bigger shark for those contributions than Skrmetta’s nemesis on the PSC Foster Campbell, who essentially runs a protection racket with those companies, and (2) outside of companies regulated by the PSC nobody actually cares to participate financially in a PSC race.

Proof of the second contention can be found with Campbell’s Republican challenger, Keith Gates. A promising young conservative, Gates is running against the last holdout of Longite socialism in Louisiana, a moral reprobate and one of the most shameless, obnoxious attention-whores in politics – and Campbell has alienated most of the sheriffs and other local officials in his district – and yet his fundraising has been troublesome at best. In his campaign finance report released yesterday Gates had only raised some $23,000, most of it coming from LABI – a crying shame for a candidate who should be very viable. Campbell, meanwhile, has raised $172,000 (with an overall war chest of some $550,000 as of the latest filing), and a sizable chunk of that has come from utility companies and law firms representing them.

Skrmetta’s financial profile is healthier than Campbell’s. Though he’s only raised about $95,000 in the current filing period, he’s nevertheless sitting on more than $600,000 in cash on hand. Yes, Skrmetta’s contributors include a number of utilities – for which Wright has castigated him.

But looking at Wright’s disclosure indicates he probably shouldn’t throw stones. Wright’s $115,000 war chest, and his $51,000 in funds raised this period, isn’t coming from the Junior League or Mother Theresa. In fact, many of his contributions come courtesy of an industry he would be regulating were he to beat Skrmetta.

Namely, the solar industry – which has been looking for favorable treatment from the PSC for several years and found a champion in Wright in his former (and probably future) life working with the left-wing pressure group Alliance For Affordable Energy.

For example, in this period there is a $5,000 contribution from Dirks Companies, LLC of New Orleans, which is an outfit engaged in leasing solar panels to low-income residents in the Crescent City. While the idea of offering a potential alternative to the monopoly of the electrical grid sounds like a good one, it’s a business model which wouldn’t seem to be a viable one without someone’s thumb on the scale.

Another $5,000 this cycle comes from Wilhite Electric Co. of Bossier City. Here’s their website.

There’s a $2,000 contribution from Optimize Solutions of Baton Rouge, which advertises that due to rebates from government its customers can get an effective discount of 80 percent on its solar products.

The $5,000 contribution from Solar Alternatives of New Orleans more or less speaks for itself.

And then there is a $4,300 contribution from a Beau Dingler of Baton Rouge, whose company Geoshield makes window tinting that blocks heat from sunlight coming through windows and who recently launched a solar energy supply business.

There is more. The point being that while Wright is attempting to make Skrmetta out to be dishonest in some way because AT&T and Atmos Energy are writing checks to his campaign, he hasn’t a leg to stand on when he’s being financed by an industry under the PSC’s purview.

That, and the fact he’s a Democrat posing as a Republican in an effort to fool the voters.



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