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Whistleblowers’ accusations against the local Utility Consumers’ Action Network have been simmering for months. They exploded this week after UCAN announced it was filing to dissolve, a week after receiving an FBI subpoena for financial records and other internal documents.
As we reported Wednesday, two employees have alleged that UCAN has embezzled money, awarded illegal bonuses, set up suspicious bank accounts and failed to properly audit its books. The organization says it has investigated those complaints and found them unsubstantiated.
We’ve gotten a lot of interest in the whistleblower complaints (including from the California Public Utilities Commission) as well as UCAN’s internal responses. Here are some of the original documents.
• The first complaint that UCAN staff attorney David Peffer sent in March 2011 in which he lodges his allegations;
• Exhibits Peffer submitted to UCAN’s board documenting an agreement for a documentary film about China by former UC San Diego economist Peter Navarro. UCAN received $1 million from an American steel company, Nucor, to have Navarro produce the documentary. Peffer says UCAN received little benefit from the arrangement other than a few copies of DVDs and a producer credit.
• And two reports written by Paul Dostart, an attorney retained by UCAN’s board to look into the complaints. The first was submitted in June 2011, three months after Peffer’s complaint was made.
The second was written in August 2011 and details more succinctly what actions the organization took in response to the complaints. It said most of Peffer’s allegation were erroneous. The only mistake it acknowledged was UCAN’s failure to report executive director Michael Shames’ salary on annual IRS filings.
• Peffer wrote this response criticizing Dostart’s latter report.
Rob Davis is a senior reporter at voiceofsandiego.org. You can contact him directly at email@example.com or 619.325.0529.
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