No comment, on advice of attorney
UPDATED: Clinton, Union, others are defendants: Lawsuit, Affidavit: Illegal Vote-buying happens on electric-supplier’s board
Explosive allegations of oppression, coercion, conspiracy, bribery and illegal vote-buying accompany an affidavit and lawsuit filed by the City of Newberry and other members of the PMPA.
It is alleged that Clinton’s and Union’s representatives sold their votes on the board of the 39-year-old PMPA (the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency, electrical supplier for Clinton and 9 others).
USC Law Professor Emeritus Gregory B. Adams writes, “... 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.”
Filed June 13, 2019, the lawsuit for which the affidavit is a supporting document contained a sense of urgency.
The PMPA Board was supposed to vote on a new rate structure - more favorable to Rock Hill and Greer - at its June 20, 2019, meeting. A Clinton official said an injunction was not needed.
“It is litigation,” Clinton City Manager Bill Ed Cannon said last 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 are the lawsuit’s plaintiffs.
Rock Hill, Greer, Greer CPW, Clinton, Union and PMPA are the lawsuit’s defendants.
With Union’s and Clinton’s votes secured - through bribery, the affidavit alleges - the new rate plan was sure to pass. The lawsuit says that would be a disaster for Newberry, Laurens CPW, Gaffney and Easley. 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 civil litigation, and not a criminal action.
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 details of the contracts will be revealed if the Newberry lawsuit is allowed to go forward.
“The votes of these Directors have been unlawfully purchased by Rock Hill and Greer promising to pay Union and Clinton millions of dollars over the next decade (evidence of $50 million). Production of the written contracts will reveal the amount of the bribe being paid by Rock Hill and Greer,” said Adams’ affidavit, which is accompanied by the professor’s 11-page resume.
On May 23, 2019, Clinton and Union joined Rock Hill, Greer and the Greer CPW in voting “no” on a motion allowing PMPA to hire an attorney.
That vote was 5-5, meaning the motion failed, and PMPA was 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, alleging the Clinton and Union representatives were bribed.
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.
The threatened lawsuit alleges cost-shifting onto Rock Hill and Greer CPW. It says PMPA failed to share excess revenues, among other allegations.
The Newberry lawsuit alleges that Rock Hill and Greer “want to put into place a new electric utility cost opinion model to the benefit of both entities, and to the detriment of the other member municipalities.” The legal action implies that Rock Hill and Greer can’t do that with 3 votes, hence, the need to “sway” Clinton and Union.
A new rate model, the lawsuit claims, would jeopardize the ability of PMPA to fulfill debt service obligations on $839 million in bonds. Other investors would sue PMPA, the litigation says.
It asks a court to declare Rock Hill and Greer CPW lack standing to file a lawsuit (declaratory judgment).
It also wants a court to find the defendants (Clinton, Union, Rock Hill and Greer) in breach of their obligations as PMPA board members.
It is a 9-page lawsuit, filed by Griffin/Davis LLC of Columbia with attachments. The legal action threatened to PMPA was sent by Spencer & Spencer Professional Associates of Rock Hill.