Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony has gone rogue!
1:20 PM EDT on August 16, 2022
Let's score one in the column for term limits!
Over the past couple of weeks, long-time Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony – the heir to the now defunct Anthony's clothing empire – has gone rogue and started openly discussing and criticizing all the troubles with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission that obscure local social bloggers like us have been harping on for over a decade.
You know, inconvenient truths like the fact that our Corporation Commission is bought and paid for by the very same oil and gas industry it's supposed to regulate, or how our commissioners seem more focused on protecting publically-traded utilities from consumers than consumers from publically-traded utilities.
For example, in a recent editorial in The Oklahoman, Anthony had the nerve and audacity to call a spade a spade, and actually call out the commission for allowing OG&E and their oil and gas buddies to make out like bandits from the February 2021 ice storm, pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 30 years.
Deceitfully named, the “Regulated Utility Consumer Protection Act” with its resulting $5 billion in bonded indebtedness is the worst special-interest and insider rip-off of Oklahoma ratepayers I’ve seen in the last 30 years...
In short, Commissioners Todd Hiett and Dana Murphy used the authority given to them in the anything-but-“Consumer Protection Act” and wrote the utilities blank checks for ratepayers to pay. They gambled with ratepayers’ money and lost — $330 million and counting.
The insiders and special interests have had their way, and the ratepayers are left holding the bag — literally for generations! Worse, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the so-called “100-year” storm in February 2021 was actually the third such event in the last 40 years (after the December cold snaps of 1983 and 1989). You can be sure those who “never let a good crisis go to waste” will try to take similar advantage of the next one, pancaking layer upon layer of debt payments on ratepayers.
The detrimental financial consequences for ratepayers are all the more heartbreaking as Oklahomans struggle with runaway inflation in so many other areas of their household budgets. History will show all of this was unconstitutional, but when elected officials freely ignore their oath to “support, obey and defend the Constitution,” these are the appalling results.
Geeze, what is Bob Anthony doing here?! I know he's always been a bit of an honest non-conformist, but this is even extreme by his standards. Doesn't he know our Corporation Commissioners are supposed to do and say whatever our benevolent corporations tell them to do and say?! I bet when OG&E CEO Sean Traschke read that editorial his face turned bright red with anger and humiliation like a chunky 11-year-old trying to fit into a pair of "slim" Levi's at Anthony's in 1987.
In addition to calling out OG&E for all but stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from Oklahomans, Anthony also called out his fellow commissioners for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign
bribes donations from the oil and gas industry.
From an article by Ben Smelder the Felder with The Oklahoman:
The impact of campaign donations has been a point of contention between the commissioners as Anthony has accused Hiett and Murphy of being beholden to special interests.
“There are whole industries and special interests that want to have influence and access, and in this commission they have it,” said Anthony, who recently wrote a guest column in The Oklahoman accusing the two other commissioners of not doing enough to protect consumers.
Seriously, can someone check on Bob Anthony to see if he's okay? He's breaking the number one rule of being an Oklahoma elected official – honesty!
The other corporation commissioners are pretty salty about the whole thing, and are now put in the situation of having to justify being shils for the Oil Overlords.
For example, Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett – a guy who had to get on his knees and beg the oil industry to help him pay back $200,000 in campaign loans – said there's nothing to worry about.
Hiett, a corporation commissioner since 2015 who previously served in the state Legislature, said donations from corporations or political action committees do not impact his decisions, which are mostly based on the research and facts the agency presents to him.
“There is no correlation, never has been,” Hiett said about his votes and campaign funds.
“The Corporation Commission is a very mathematical entity, the decisions are looking at a record and the record is developed in public meetings that are subject to the open meetings act, and the only thing I can consider is what is entered into the record with that case.”
“It makes our work much more difficult because we are fighting against a false narrative all the time,” Hiett said about Anthony’s attacks.
Yeah, I'm not sure it's Bob Anthony who's spinning the false narrative here.
That being said, in a strange way, I identify and kind of feel sorry for Hiett.
Back when I waited tables at Applebee's in the late 1990s, one of the waiters – his name was Sean – developed a little scheme that would let servers, in certain situations, pocket the money from soft drinks on cash tabs. He let me and a couple of other servers know how to do it, and before you could say "Tequila Lime Chicken," we had a little Robin Hood-style racket set up that let us hardworking waiters stick it to the man and earn an extra $10 - $20 a shift! Well, at least that's how we justified our employee theft.
One of the waiters who knew about the scheme but didn't participate eventually quit to go back to college. When she did, she told the manager about the loophole! The manager then put up a flyer in the kitchen informing staff that she was going to start monitoring open ticket times, and if anyone was caught abusing the system, we'd be fired from our shitty job.
I guess the point of that story is I – like Todd Hiett – know what it's like to have an honest coworker with some integrity expose your shady dealings when they're about to quit. Trust me – it's not fun! If only a could have been a Corporation Commissioner and been able to continue the scheme without penalty or recourse.
Anyway, now that Bob's being open about things, you can bet it's only a matter of time before the Oil Overlords and Chamber of Commerce stage an intervention some night at the Petroleum Club or Vast, and try to talk some ruling class sense into him. If you're a waiter stealing from one of those restaurants, please let us know how it goes and send photos.
Stay with The Lost Ogle. We'll keep you advised.