JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Senator Doug Libla has stood as an opponent to utility legislation for years now, but his latest move is calling for the Missouri Public Service Commission to open an investigation into political spending by utility companies.
In a letter sent to Chairman Daniel Hall on Thursday, Libla asked that the commission or one of its members immediately:
1. Compel by subpoena duces tecum from each Missouri regulated electric utility all information, documents, and records relating to political expenditures made since January 1, 2014
2. Require public disclosure of that information to the greatest extent by law
The letter calls for the requirement that three investor-owned utilities (Ameren, Kansas City Power & Light, and Empire, as outlined by Libla) disclose their political donations and lobbyist spending.
Back in February, while discussing SB 564, a utility bill sponsored by Sen. Ed Emery, Sen. Rob Schaaf spoke of campaign contributions made to Gov Eric Greitens and state lawmakers, saying that by his calculations, utility companies had contributed $900,000 to legislators during the past election cycle.
“This has been an ongoing debate and attack on the Public Service commission’s authority,” Libla said. “They’re the only protection that consumers have.”
“In addition to the above request for information, I separately request that the commission open a case to investigate all political spending by Missouri’s regulated public utilities,” Libla concluded in the letter. “The commission should investigate all aspects of the impact of this such spending on the public interest, including but not limited to the amount of spending, form of spending, recipients of spending, disclosure and accounting requirements for such spending, the propriety and legality of such spending, the impact of such spending on Missouri ratepayers, and the impact of such spending on Missouri taxpayers. This investigation request should in no event delay the commission from requiring Missouri electric utilities to immediately produce and disclose the requested political spending information.”
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.