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Old Southwestern Bell rate case is back before Oklahoma Supreme Court

Two customers of the former Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. have filed a class-action lawsuit to reopen an Oklahoma Corporation Commission case decided in 1989.
by Paul Monies Published: July 23, 2014

A decades-old case over rates for the former Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. is back — again — after a group of Oklahomans filed a class-action lawsuit to review the proceedings.

A referee for the Oklahoma Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday morning from attorneys for Nichols Hills Mayor Sody Clements and retired Lt. Gen. Richard Burpee, former commander of Tinker Air Force Base’s Air Logistics Center.

Clements and Burpee want the court to review a 1986 rate case, which was decided in 1989 by a 2-1 vote of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Clements and Burpee said the case was tainted by the bribery convictions of a former corporation commissioner and a former attorney contracted by the telephone company. They said customers of Southwestern Bell should be refunded up to $14.3 billion from excess revenues and interest in the past 27 years.

Longtime Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony was the lone no vote in the rate case and helped federal authorities investigate the bribery scheme. Former Commissioner Bob Hopkins and attorney William Anderson were convicted in 1995 and served time in federal prison.

Anthony, who has been a commissioner since 1989, last week filed an affidavit with the Supreme Court detailing his assistance to the FBI and his perspective on the lawsuit. Anthony said the involvement by phone company executives was more extensive than the evidence presented at the bribery trials.

“As shown by my affidavit, these facts show to an even greater extent the direct involvement of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company’s senior management in their carefully planned effort, in my view, to corrupt and defraud the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the citizens of Oklahoma in Oklahoma Corporation Commission Cause No. PUD 260,” Anthony said in his filing.

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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