How Many Laws Can PSC Incumbent and Candidate Brad Molnar Break With 3 Donations?

by jhwygirl

These Public Service Commission races often go overlooked. Few elected offices can have such a direct impact, daily, on your life and your pocketbook than the people up in Helena who are hearing requests from utility companies for rate hikes and such. Maybe it’s time to pay attention. Brad Molnar is running for Public Service Commissioner for District 2, which is out near Billings. He is running against Ron Tussing, who has been endorsed by both the Montana Conservation Voters and The Progressive Democrats of Montana. Both Jay and I have written about Brad Molnar previously, here and here.

Perhaps the better question is: How (at the very least) ethically-challenged can Brad Molnar, incumbent and candidate for Public Service Commission District 2, be?

The guy is a sitting Public Service Commissioner, and he solicits donations from both Northwestern Energy and PPL Montana (two donations of $1,000 from Northwestern and one $1,000 donation from PPL Montana). He solicits donations from corporations over which he is elected to oversee?


MCA 45-7-104 has been on the books for how long? But seriously, does Molnar really need to be told that as an public servant he shouldn’t be soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept any pecuniary benefit from a person known to be subject to such regulation, inspection, investigation, or custody or against whom such litigation is known to be pending or contemplated?

Or how about MCA 2-2-104, which prohibits a public officer, legislator, or public employee from accepting a gift of substantial value or a substantial economic benefit tantamount to a gift? A gift that that would tend improperly to influence a reasonable person in the person’s position to depart from the faithful and impartial discharge of the person’s public duties?

Oh – and the state does give us a definition of “gift” in MCA 2-2-102:
“Gift of substantial value” means a gift with a value of $50 or more for an individual.
(b) The term does not include:
(i) a gift that is not used and that, within 30 days after receipt, is returned to the donor or delivered to a charitable organization or the state and that is not claimed as a charitable contribution for federal income tax purposes;

So did Molnar return his gifts within 30 days? Only one of Northwestern Energy’s $1,000 gifts were returned within 30 days – the other had been long spent – and was returned only after Northwestern Energy had requested it be returned. As for PPL Montana’s $1,000 gift? Doesn’t look like it – but they did ask Molnar to quit using the materials. He has, of course, refused to do so.

Molnar apparently never saw a problem with either donation – in this letter to Commissioner Unsworth (of the state’s Political Practices), he defends himself by saying he’s returned only the $1,000 from Northwestern Energy.

You know – this stuff is pretty darned basic. He’s an elected official. He regulates over utilities. He oversees both Northwestern Energy and PPL Montana. He reviews and votes on rate hikes that both of these businesses request to have imposed on the citizens of Montana.

You simply don’t solicit donations from utility companies and spend them when you are a Montana Public Service Commission elected commissioner – or someone running for the office.

  1. Miss M

    Molnar claimed in the Terry debate that he single-handedly added more cell phone towers in southeastern Montana. This is a complete fabrication as the PSC has NOTHING to do with siting cell phone towers and has very little impact on cell phone service AT ALL. Someone should create a blog site just for the false claims Molnar makes about the Public Service Commission. In the first Billings debate Commissioner Molnar claimed that the PSC “sites new power plants ALL THE TIME.” Even after his opponent Mayor Ron Tussing corrected him, Molnar continued to claim that the Public Service Commission has the authority to determine where power plants can, must be built. Although Molnar has claimed in interviews that the PSC has spent $400,000 training him, apparently it’s not enough.

  1. 1 Count on Doug Mood for a bad energy policy « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] of stuff, including public transportation: buses, taxis and the like. Along with fellow regressive Brad Molnar, incumbent Mood said “no” to granting a permit to Green Taxi. Fortunately, the other […]

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