San Diego attorneys Mike Aguirre and Maria Severson tonight (April 29) received word from Southern California Edison on the documents it refuses to turn over in a lawsuit the lawyers filed against the company in San Francisco.
Aguirre and Severson sued Edison, demanding that they turn over documents related to the deal in which ratepayers will pick up 70 percent of the costs of the San Onofre closing even though those costs, they believe, should be paid by shareholders, not ratepayers, since the shutdown was caused by management errors.
Edison is supposed to turn over the documents to the California Public Utilities Commission, which is supposed to release them to Aguirre and Severson. But a so-called "privilege log" reveals the kind of documents Edison won't turn over. There is a listing on May 28 of last year. Edison is refusing to turn over a "proposed action plan" most assuredly prepared by Mark Fabiani, the "master of disaster" who has been representing the Chargers in their dealings with the city.
(In 2008, the Sacramento Bee reported that in the height of the energy crisis early in the century, then-governor Gray Davis hired Fabiani for advice.) Edison cited "privileged and confidential; attorney client privilege; attorney work product (action plan)" for reasons it refuses to turn over the Fabiani documents.
Also, Edison is withholding a discussion among top executives about an earnings call it is having with securities analysts. (Such calls are routinely made after a company releases earnings for a period.) What did Edison discuss telling analysts in that call? Was it the deal it expected to get to have ratepayers pick up most of the tab for the San Onofre nuclear plant failure? I can't think what else it would have been.
Edison has spent $7 million for legal advice on what documents to withhold, says Aguirre. What is particularly interesting is that in spring of last year, there were numerous instances relating to communications between Mike Florio, a CPUC commissioner, and Bob Adler, Edison's lawyer. In some instances, Edison was preparing a "script" for the Florio call. This involved Ron Litzinger, a top official of Edison. Talking points between then-CPUC president Michael Peevey and Edison's Adler, from June of last year, will not be released. On four other occasions Peevey's talking points will be withheld by Edison. Notes on a telephone call between Peevey and Litzinger won't be released.
Also, Edison won't let go of a diary of Stephen Pickett, the Edison executive who met with Peevey clandestinely in Warsaw, Poland. They sketched out the plan by which ratepayers would be stuck with most of the bill for the expenses of closing San Onofre.
Edison did release a statement by Pickett, dated yesterday (April 28), in which he claims, "I did not understand President Peevey's comments to be a directive on how a settlement should be structured." This statement will be contested vigorously.
"This is the tip of a $5 billion fraud iceberg, showing fraud, showing collusion," says Aguirre. He is waiting to see what CPUC turns over, but, he says, "Edison and CPUC are carrying out a massive coverup of a massive fraud."