‘Bananas’ Foster Campbell Wants To Give A Handout To His Trial Lawyer Buddies

Today in The News Star, Public Service Commissioner “Bananas” Foster Campbell announced that he was taking his name off a PSC motion to block converting the PSC’s lawsuit against the Louisiana Legislature into a class action lawsuit. The class action request was filed by former PSC Commissioner Jimmy Fields.

The lawsuit is about whether or not the Jindal administration and the Legislature violated state law by scooping up surplus PSC funds and transferring them to the state general fund. The PSC is 100% funded by the fees it collects from the companies it regulates.

Here’s why the PSC and the Legislature both oppose the Fields motion:

Both the Legislature and the Public Service Commission filed objections to the motion. The PSC argues that the addition of a class would be too costly, would cause needless delays and the “court’s actions would impinge on the authority of the commission.”

The Louisiana Legislature argues that a petition that includes having two legislative acts declared unconstitutional and a class action tax refund petition for damages are two completely separate causes of action and “amounts to an improper change in action.”

Here’s a question, does Bananas even attend his own PSC meetings? If so, does he pay attention to them or is he too busy trying to shakedown donations from utilities and trial lawyers for his campaign?

A source at the PSC provided The Hayride some transcripts of a couple of meetings where this issue was discussed. Allegedly, Bananas was present at both.

Here’s an excerpt from the meeting on May 19, 2010:

COMMISSIONER SKRMETTA: The second issue is I ask … direct Staff to open a docket on … to study and report on the feasibility of adopting — that any amounts that the Public Service Commission takes in as a budget surplus above the cost of its budget, a mechanism for returning that surplus to the ratepayers. And if they could develop a mechanism and a scheme for such a activity and report back to the Commission when it’s complete. Thank you.

This issue came up again on February 23, 2011:

Okay, I want to do a directive to Staff. I mean, we have the lawsuit pending and hopefully we win the suit at some point. I know we are going into executive session on it, but we oftentimes and I hear this on the radio now that we never return any money anyhow, so my directive is that “If we should win this suit and assuming that we will, or we shouldn’t proceed if we don’t assume that, I would like Staff to look at how we would go about once we accumulate the money, and I don’t want to have to wait to pay utility — my bill at the office, I have to pay, or their yard work, or whatever. But once we accumulate enough money that we need to operate on the cushion; that we start looking into how we refund or send the excess money back to the people we collect it from. My feeling is that we oftentimes only want to collect and we never look at where it should go and that is my whole problem of the issue of the state seizing these funds is “That is not our funds, that is not their funds, that is the people’s funds.” And if someone is going to have that money in another place it should go back to the people that paid it, so I realize that oftentimes and I have talked to Ms. Gonzalez and she told me we operate on a shoestring and didn’t have money sometimes. Well, it has changed a little to where we did accumulate up to $8 million. I don’t know what we need to keep as a cushion, but whatever 15 that is we keep it and then we are look into — I don’t care if it is three cents that goes back to a ratepayer, that is three cents that should go back to them, and not to the State to spend where they want to spend it, if they want to have money in the budget. And now undoubtedly won’t have it in the budget right now. So my directive is that we look at how we go about refunding when we got that $8 million again, to give to someone, give back back to someone.

So the PSC was already drawing up plans to return the money back to ratepayers. Converting the lawsuit into a class action would lengthen the process and it would ensure trial lawyers would get a handout from the state.

Bananas must have forgotten that the PSC had already decided the issue. They were going to refund it back to ratepayers.

But Bananas works for the trial lawyers and his campaign contributors, not the people of Louisiana.



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