With about a month before election day, the five candidates vying for the District 2 seat on the Louisiana Public Service Commission took sides Monday on the issue of accepting campaign contributions from utility companies, reports the Baton Rouge Business Report.

                                Scott Angelle

Former Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle, R-Breaux Bridge, tells the Baton Rouge Press Club that he's been accepting donations from utility companies regulated by the PSC. Angelle credits 5 to 7 percent of his campaign fund to donations from PSC regulated companies, but describes the contributions as an "endorsement of me, not my endorsement of them."

Angelle is not alone.

State Rep. Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge, also admits to taking contributions from companies under the regulatory umbrella of the PSC.

Voicing opposition during Monday's Press Club event were the remaining three candidates, including Sarah Holiday, R-Baton Rouge, Forest Wright, D-New Orleans, and Greg Gaubert, no party-Thibodaux. They argue it is a conflict of interest to take contributions from companies under the PSC's watch.

Wright, according to BRBR, says he has taken "a principled stand not to accept money from private utility companies" regulated by the PSC.

Lafayette businessman Ed Roy, a former Republican candidate who withdrew from the race last month due to a lack of campaign funds, also has levied criticism against Angelle, mostly for resigning his post at DNR to run for political office.

Roy, on his website, says:

Angelle has confirmed that he was more interested in taking advantage of a political opportunity, than staying at his job at DNR to protect the lives and property of the people of southeast Louisiana threatened by the Assumption Sinkhole Disaster.

Not only did Angelle know about the structural problems with the salt dome as early as January of 2011, more than a year and a half ago — he didn’t tell the local Sheriff and officials who are responsible for the lives of those people, what he knew. Then, with the crisis coming to a head, and a state of emergency declared — Angelle promptly resigned from DNR, and a day later, announced that he was running for the PSC.

The former DNR head's response, according to BRBR:

Angelle says state statute prevents the DNR head from reviewing decisions of the Office of Conservation and says it's too soon to say whether a regulatory failure contributed to the sinkhole.

Click here for the full Baton Rouge Business Report article on Monday's Press Club event.

To read Roy's full criticism of Angelle, click here.


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