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AG says regulator could have conflict in some utility cases

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Attorney General Greg Stumbo's office is
questioning whether a recent appointee to the Kentucky Public
Service can ethically review cases involving several major
utilities because her husband works for a law firm representing
those utilities.

The attorney general's office has asked Caroline Pitt Clark
whether she intends to recuse herself from cases involving Kentucky
Utilities, Louisville Gas and Electric, Kentucky American Water
Co., AT&T and other companies represented by the law firm of Stoll,
Keenon, Ogden. Clark's husband, Justin, is an attorney in the
firm's Louisville office.

"Should you intend to preside over those cases, this office may
have no choice but to file a motion to disqualify you based on an
actual or apparent conflict of interest," warned Dennis Howard II,
acting director of the attorney general's Office of Rate
Intervention.

The attorney general represents utility customers in proceedings
before the PSC, which regulates the rates of most utilities.

Clark has not responded to the recent letter from Stumbo's
office, but her husband's law firm sent a letter advising that he
had been "screened off" from the firm's utility-related work.

Howard is reviewing the law firm's response to determine whether
it adequately addresses his concern, said spokesman Corey Bellamy.

Justin Clark said Friday he has been blocked from accessing any
utility-related documents since his wife came under consideration
for the PSC job.

"There's a complete Chinese wall put up within the firm," he
said. "It's not a practice I know anything about."

PSC spokesman Andrew Melnykovych said the agency can't yet
address the issue since Clark hasn't taken office.

"At this point, we have no first-hand knowledge of what her
husband's employment at SKO entails," he said.

Caroline Clark, 30, was appointed to the commission by Gov.
Ernie Fletcher on Aug. 3. She is an attorney and worked as a junior
member of Fletcher's legal team during an investigation of his
administration's hiring practices.

Fletcher has said previously that the appointment of Clark in no
way affected his legal bills from the case.
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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,
http://www.kentucky.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-08-11-07 0902EDT


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