Printer Friendly

Are PSC investigations biased for Arkla?

Are PSC Investigations Biased For Arkla?

In the flurry of continuing news items about the $175 million Arkla-Arkoma gas deal, the resignation March 9 of one of the Arkansas Public Service Commission's staff attorneys, Ivy Lincoln, gathered little publicity. It is cast in a radically different light with the understanding that Lincoln was the lead attorney in the current PSC investigation and he quit for fear he was being set up to take a fall.

"I no longer trusted my situation," Lincoln says. "I figured my reputation was at stake."

Interviewed recently, Lincoln is bound by the attorney's code of ethics not to attack his client - in this case, the PSC - and he wouldn't directly address intentional bias in the commission's investigation. But Lincoln and others did verify the following:

* In late February, Lincoln says Jerrell L. Clark, director of the PSC, tried to get him to tell Arkansas Gazette reporter John Reed that he had released handwritten notes to an Arkla attorney without the commission's approval, thereby casting Lincoln in the public eye as an attorney leaking documents to Arkla.

Lincoln says Clark authorized the release of the notes that Lincoln had taken while talking to Thomas A. Mars, a Springdale attorney, about the Arkla-Arkoma deal. Clark also approved a letter Lincoln sent to Mars informing him the notes were being viewed. As a direct result of this incident, Lincoln quit 10 days later, March 9.

* Lincoln testified in a deposition last week that Gilbert L. Glover, a PSC attorney, gave deposition answers from U.S. Representative Tommy Robinson to Jerry Jones before he was questioned by Lincoln on the same subjects - without telling Lincoln, thereby giving Jones advance knowledge of what Robinson had said.

* Mars is suing Arkla for $80 million in a class-action ratepayers case over the Arkoma deal. He says Lincoln's role as lead attorney in the commission's investigation that began Nov. 20, 1989 was steadily usurped over a period of time.

Lincoln had a reputation for taking tough stands against Arkla. He had audited the company's records in the summer of 1989 which led to a rate settlement with the PSC last fall. In the beginning, Lincoln's name was prominent on all legal documents, Mars says, and Lincoln was charged by PSC attorney Dave Slaton to conduct the investigation to the fullest extent.

A clear sign of Lincoln's diminished role was when he was prohibited from taking the depositions of Arkla Chairman Thomas F. McLarty III and Sheffield Nelson, despite his oil and gas background. Glover, who has none, took the depositions instead.

* Mars began working on the case in January 1990 and supplied Lincoln with leads that he had gathered. Mars was initially prohibited by the PSC from gathering information from Arkla directly and he reasoned that his leads would help strengthen the PSC's case against Arkla and his $80-million ratepayer complaint.

The PSC had just two attorneys and two CPAs assigned to the case while Arkla had hired the services of a 1,200-member law firm with 17 offices throughout the world. Mars employs private investigators and since filing his initial complaint, has received numerous phone calls, anonymous tips, etc. that he passed on to Lincoln.

However, on March 2, Lincoln was ordered not to talk to Mars without Gil Glover's presence. This included all telephone calls.

* After Lincoln quit, Mars' complaint was consolidated with the PSC's investigation. The PSC then barred Mars and Lincoln from working together, something that Mars wanted.

Mars accused the commission of conducting a biased investigation and filed a motion against the commission staff and Chairman Sam I. Bratton Jr. to dismiss themselves from the case. On March 27, the commission thought enough of Mars' charges to send him a faxed letter offering to let Lincoln work on the case if he would drop his motion. Mars refused.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Arkansas Public Service Commission; Arkla Inc.
Author:Walker, Wythe, Jr.; Kern, David F.
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Apr 9, 1990
Previous Article:The $1 billion deal.
Next Article:Cash without flow.

Related Articles
Oily deals: pattern emerging in questionable gas deals in Arkansas, California and Canada.
The $1 billion deal.
Arkla's day in court.
Mixing gas & ink: reporting on Arkla-Arkoma becomes an issue in the most difficult assignment to cover since Grand Gulf.
Arkla's big scare.
The great rate debate.
The Appointment.
Best and Worst of Times for Reliant Arkla.
Flame Out.
PSC: expect higher winter gas bills.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters