Lieberman, Cantwell: DOE Inspector General Conducting a Preliminary Investigation into FERC’s Wall Street Contacts

WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Tuesday announced that the Department of Energy’s Inspector General is conducting a preliminary inquiry into the legality of a telephone call that members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission made to a select group of Wall Street analysts regarding Western U.S. electricity cases pending before the commission. The IG’s office sent the Senators a fax saying, “(w)e are initiating a preliminary inquiry into this matter and will advise you upon the completion of our effort.”

In an April 23, 2003, letter to the IG, the Senators requested an investigation into the telephone call in which FERC Chairman Pat Wood and Commissioner Nora Brownell reportedly told analysts how they would vote on pending cases concerning the energy crisis in the Western United States. Noting that FERC’s own rules prohibit Commissioners from engaging in off-the-record communications about contested proceedings with anyone outside FERC, the Senators asked Inspector General Friedman, at a minimum, to answer a number of specific questions about the call.