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San Francisco Superior Court Rules PUC Commissioner Duque Must Forfeit Office

Thursday, April 4, 2002
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Under a recently issued San Francisco Superior Court ruling in a quo warranto case authorized by Attorney General Bill Lockyer, California Public Utilities Commissioner Henry Duque must forfeit his office because of a constitutionally prohibited financial conflict of interest.

The tentative ruling by Judge Alfred Chiantelli issued April 2 becomes final in 10 days unless objections are raised in the lawsuit brought by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. The group was granted leave to challenge Duque's holding office after the commissioner purchased 700 shares of stock in Nextel, a telecommunications company regulated by the CPUC.

"In the ruling, the judge found that Commissioner Duque did not do everything which can be reasonably expected of a commissioner to avoid a conflict of interest and now must vacate the office under procedures set out by the state Constitution," Lockyer said. "The ruling clarifies how the constitutional requirement for automatic forfeiture of the office applies to CPUC members who are prohibited from acquiring a financial interest in a corporation or person regulated by the commission."

By law, the Attorney General must approve all quo warranto actions filed by private individuals, who are seeking to sue in the name of the State of California. A typical quo warranto action involves a lawsuit to remove a person from public office. The quo warranto process is designed to protect public officials from frivolous lawsuits.

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