Eric Skrmetta Personally Profits From Utilities He Regulates According to Documents of His Stock Trades, Public Pays the Price
Mandeville, LA. (December 2, 2014) – By now, the public is aware that Commissioner Eric Skrmetta takes hundreds of thousands of dollars from the big monopoly utilities he regulates to fund his campaign. What the public does not yet know is that Commissioner Skrmetta is personally profiting in the hundreds of thousands of dollars from those very same utilities. Documents show that Eric Skrmetta actively invests and trades stocks in the companies he is supposed to regulate on behalf of the public and has personally profited between $125,000 and $500,000 from his investments.
“This is clearly a huge conflict of interest that harms the public. Eric Skrmetta has a financial incentive in squeezing every dollar out of ratepayers as a shareholder who has made piles of money- money paid for by the public through our monthly utility bills. Money leaves our wallets and goes into his wallet. It’s not only unethical, it is shameful,” said Forest Wright who is running to replace Eric Skrmetta as the runoff election approaches this Saturday.
Eric Skrmetta has bought and sold stock in AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier Communications, and Earthlink, all regulated by the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Skrmetta was actually warned in writing directly by the State Ethics Board in 2010 of potential legal violations in a letter to him that said “Section 13112B of the Code states that no public servant shall participate in a transaction involving the governmental entity in which to his actual knowledge any person of which he is an officer director trustee partner or employee has a substantial economic interest.” He continued to invest in the companies he regulates despite the notice from the Ethics Board and despite the conflict of interest it posed to the public he is supposed to represent. Numerous other ethics opinions make similar statements in discouraging public officials from engaging in such conflicts of interest. A 2006 opinion informed an inquirer that not only was he not allowed to vote on matters before his public body in which he had a financial stake, he was not allowed to serve on that public body.
“I have pledged to uphold a higher standard of independence and integrity as a candidate for Public Service Commission by accepting no campaign contributions front the big utility companies” Forest Wright said. “Trading in stock for the companies the Commission regulates is a serious ethical conflict of interest.”
“I pledge to not trade or own stock from the companies the Commission regulates so that you will know that my decisions are for the public I represent, and not for personal financial gain. It ought to be common sense, but quite incredibly Eric Skrmetta has been enriching himself by investing in regulated utility stocks.”
Forest Wright has built a career as a consumer watchdog and small business owner. Known as a champion for emerging industry and a fierce protector of consumer rights, Forest has worked on the front lines to bring more options and lower costs to Louisiana’s working families and businesses.
Among his many career successes, Forest Wright has launched workforce development training and incentive programs that reward customers for saving energy to reduce their monthly utility bills and promote economic growth. Wright holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Tulane University, where he met his wife Julia.
For more information, please visit forestwright.com and follow Forest on Facebook at facebook.com/ForestWrightForLPSC.
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Forest Wright is an energy policy expert who knows what it takes to bring real reform to the PSC.