Common Cause Nebraska questions the campaign contributions received by members of the Public Service Commission.
Common Cause Executive Director Gavin Geis says a study by the group disclosed 76% of the campaign money for incumbents on the PSC came from the industries they regulate.
“Some 76%, overall, of their funding comes from either the entities themselves or people connected to those entities,” Geis tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “And, not much of their funding really comes from citizens of the state or taxpayers or individuals. It’s people connected to those entities.”
According to Common Cause, the percentage of donations varies by commissioner, from a low of 52% to a high of 99%.
The public watchdog group says the study discloses that the five Public Service Commission members Nebraskans depend on to keep utility rates in line take a substantial amount of campaign contributions from those they regulate.
PSC campaigns do not require a lot of money to run. A total of just $173,000 was raised over the past ten years. Of that total, $134,000 came from regulated industries.
The top donor was NE State Transportation Political UTU PAC at $29,626. Donors associated with the telecommunications industry gave the most, followed by the transportation, construction, and energy industries.
“We’re worried mostly about the fact that funding is coming from the people that they’re supposed to be watching and that it’s influencing the policies they put into place,” Geis says.
Common Cause recommends prohibiting regulated industries from donating to PSC campaigns.
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this article.