Peevey Is Backed for PUC Post

Times Staff Writer

A legislative committee endorsed Michael R. Peevey as a member of the California Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday, despite the former utility executive's admission that he accepted a gift that may violate state rules.

The Senate Rules Committee voted 4 to 0, with one abstention, to confirm Peevey for the job regulating private electric, water and telephone companies. The full Senate is expected to vote on his confirmation as soon as today.

Gov. Gray Davis appointed Peevey, 64, last March to serve out the term of a member who had resigned. In January, the governor reappointed him to a term that ends in 2009 -- and named him president of the five-member commission although he had not yet been confirmed. The job pays $117,818 a year.

On Monday, Peevey disclosed in a statement of financial interests that last year he accepted free parking worth $2,134 from San Francisco International Airport. That gift exceeds a Fair Political Practices Commission limit of $320 from a single source, although there are exceptions for travel. FPPC officials declined to comment on the matter Wednesday.

In an attachment to the disclosure statement, Peevey said he parked at the airport 14 times in 2002. Eight visits involved state business, for which he did not seek reimbursement of $1,384 in costs, according to the statement. An additional six trips to the airport involved travel home to Southern California for chemotherapy treatment.

"In hindsight, I should have paid SFO for the parking fees on these occasions," Peevey wrote.

He told legislators he learned too late that the law allows him to return the portion of a gift that exceeds state limits within 30 days.

Airports, including those in Oakland and Ontario, commonly give lawmakers and other state officials free parking. Several other officials' financial statements filed this week listed the value of parking gifts they accepted at $320.

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