Legal actions swirl around Clinton's electrical supplier
Newberry and others are suing Clinton, Union and others with regard to the way electricity is bought and paid for - with a lawsuit affidavit alleging oppression, coercion, conspiracy, bribery and illegal vote-buying W - MEETING.
The explosive allegations are made in an affidavit by Dr. Gregory B. Adams, Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina. His 11-page resume is attached to the affidavit.
Adams alleges - and says a SLED investigation should be conducted - that Union and Clinton sold their votes on the PMPA Board to Rock Hill and Greer (PMPA is the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency, electrical supplier for Clinton and others).
There is a sense of urgency to the lawsuit - the PMPA Board is set to vote tomorrow (June 20) on a new rate structure that favors Rock Hill and Greer, the legal action says. With Union’s and Clinton’s votes secured - through bribery, the affidavit alleges - the new rate plan is sure to pass. The lawsuit says that would be a disaster for Newberry, Laurens CPW, Gaffney and Easley; a source told The Chronicle Laurens’ electric rates will rise 10-15% and Clinton will pay $3M more per year for electricity.
Union and Clinton would be protected, however, the lawsuit alleges, because their representatives on the board executed “illegal contracts.” Union’s representative, Joe Nichols, is named in the affidavit; Clinton’s representative, Bob McLean, is not named.
This is a civil lawsuit, and not a criminal action.
“It is litigation,” Clinton City Manager Bill Ed Cannon said Tuesday. “We have been in meetings where our attorney was present, but it is not moving forward. PMPA has amended its agenda for June 20, and it will not come up until September. We hired a rate consultant to study our rates, but we have not had a chance to really discuss it with our attorney.”
Newberry, Laurens CPW, Gaffney and Easley asked for a judge to issue an injunction blocking the June 20 vote, which apparently now will not be taken.
Rock Hill, Greer, Greer CPW, Clinton, Union and PMPA are being sued.
The lawsuit filed in Newberry by a Columbia law firm is in response to a lawsuit threatened by a Rock Hill law firm.
The Rock Hill lawsuit alleges that PMPA has not fulfilled its obligations to an agreement that allowed 10 PMPA cities to purchase 25% of the Catawba 2 Nuclear Reactor. Rock Hill owns 28% of that 25% stake - Greer owns the second-most, so Rock Hill and Greer votes are weighted when the PMPA board makes a decision.
On May 8, 2019, Dr. Adams’ affidavit says, representatives of Rock Hill, Greer, Clinton and Union met and, from that meeting, executed “illegal contracts”. Adams says the details of the contracts will be revealed if the Newberry lawsuit is allowed to go forward.
On May 23, 2019, Clinton and Union joined Rock Hill, Greer and the Greer CPW is voting “no” on a motion allowing PMPA to hire an attorney to defend itself against the threatened Rock Hill lawsuit. That vote was 5-5 meaning the motion failed, and PMPA is not allowed to hire an attorney to address the Rock Hill allegations.
There is a direct correlation between what was discussed at the May 8 meeting and the vote at the May 23 meeting, the affidavit says.
It alleges the Clinton and Union representatives took “a bribe”.
Adams writes, “These illegal contracts offered by Rock Hill and Greer and accepted by Union and Clinton are void because they are against the public policy of South Carolina and the United States; they are unenforceable and criminal. The conduct of the corrupted Union and Clinton PMPA Directors is similarly unlawful and criminal. In my opinion, referral of this matter to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) would be proper.”
Newberry’s lawsuit was filed June 13, 2019. It has not been answered by the defendants’ attorneys.
The controversy started with a March 20, 2019, letter from Rock Hill and Greer CPW to PMPA alleging that PMPA is in default of its formation agreement. PMPA was formed Jan. 11, 1979.