November 28, 2010-By John Russell, in the Indianapolis Star. In dozens of e-mails, obtained by The Indianapolis Star under an open records request, the two men schmoozed and joked over all sorts of personal topics, sometimes trading messages eight or 10 times a day. Photo © 2010 John Blair is a file photo of David Lott Hardy. James L. Turner, the second-highest-paid executive at Duke Energy Corp., liked keeping in touch with Indiana regulators, even on a long holiday weekend when he was riding in a boat.
On July 2, Turner sent an e-mail to David Lott Hardy, then chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, telling him he was heading out on a channel to Lake Michigan.
“Would the ethics police have a cow if you and the woman came up some weekend?” he wrote.
Hardy wrote back: “Probably — we might ‘be in the area’ some afternoon, but I won’t be doing this forever.”
A few minutes later, he added that driving to the lake would be a fun outing in a high-performance BMW M5. “It would be a nice run in the M5 and a cheaper [Michigan] journey as usually we only go to [Michigan] so the woman can go to Nieman Marcus.”
In dozens of e-mails, obtained by The Indianapolis Star under an open records request, the two men schmoozed and joked over all sorts of personal topics, sometimes trading messages eight or 10 times a day. At one point, Hardy offered advice on what kind of BMW Turner should buy. Another time, they talked about Butler University’s basketball championship games. Several times, they had frank discussions on private personnel matters involving Duke officials and job candidates.
Taken together, the e-mails paint a picture of a cozy relationship that extended far beyond a professional association between a utility executive and a powerful state regulator.
They also show that the friendly relationship between Duke and Indiana regulators, which resulted in the firing of Duke’s Indiana president, Mike Reed, in an ethics scandal earlier this month, extended all the way to Duke’s headquarters in North Carolina.
Turner is one of Duke Energy’s top executives, responsible for the company’s regulated business segment, which is Duke’s largest, and for legislative and regulatory strategy and rates. He oversees a vast portfolio, with responsibility for power delivery, gas distribution, customer service and several other functions. (MORE)
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