Editor’s note: The headline has been edited to more clearly state the nature of the dispute
A Maryland legislator has asked the Mount Rainier Ethics Commission to look into Pepco’s lobbying relationship with former Mayor Malinda Miles during her closing months in office.
In a June 10, 2021, letter to the city’s Ethics Commission, Del. Al Carr, a Democrat representing Kensington, Wheaton and Chevy Chase as part of the District 18 delegation, raised concerns about how Pepco solicited Miles’ support for the energy company’s pending application before the Maryland Public Service Commission to raise electric rates over the next several years.
Miles’ support was most-visibly rendered in an April 25, 2021, virtual public hearing before the Public Service Commission. During that meeting she praised the energy utility company for providing electrical services to re-open the Mount Rainier Library, its work to install electric vehicle charging stations in the city, and enthusiastically urged the Public Service Commission to approve the rate change. The case is under consideration.
“If there is anything else I can do to promote the passing of this request from Pepco, my phone number is available. I am on the line,” said Miles during the meeting.
Video of the meeting is embedded below, queued up to the start of Miles’ testimony.
But Miles also helped arrange a time for Pepco officials to speak with the newly-formed Prince George’s County Mayors Association, which she chaired after the group was established in July 2020.
Specifically, Carr asked the Ethics Commission to look into whether Pepco was in compliance with the provisions of the city’s ethics ordinance requiring lobbyists to register with the city. Carr said in his letter that city staff informed him no entities were registered as lobbyists with the city.
The city’s ethics laws on lobbying are written broadly, and include anyone who communicates with, or solicits others to communicate with, city officials or employees “with the intent to influence any official action.”
Carr’s ethics complaint also included 14 pages of email correspondence between Pepco officials and city staff and elected officials. The emails detail Pepco’s outreach to Miles, seeking her support for the multi-year rate change. In a March 4, 2021, email, Pepco’s municipal liaison Tony Ruffin wrote to Miles and Gatling seeking to confirm details of an earlier discussion with Miles to support the plan during one of two Public Service Commission hearings on the topic. In a March 19, 2021, email, Ruffin asked Miles to arrange for Pepco officials to give a presentation before the Prince George’s County Mayors Association March 25, 2021, meeting. In a March 26, 2021, email, Ruffin sought and received Miles’ approval to use a quote attributed to her in a press release promoting the rate change.
“I want to say to Pepco and to Maryland Energy Administration…we have done amazing things together with electric infrastructure and we’re cutting down on energy costs,” reads the quote.
Carr’s letter can be viewed below.