Tag Archives: NISOURCE INC.

Carrie Hightman Tied to Bobby Rush Scandal

29 Dec

by Ken Davidson

A new investigation by the Illinois Better Government Association, while not specifically mentioning Hightman, calls the relationship between SBC Illinois and the Office of Congressman Bobby Rush into question. Andy Shaw, President and CEO of the Better Government Association is quick to point out “We’re not suggesting that Rush broke the law, but we are saying the fog needs to be cleared and real answers provided.” SBC Illinois was the donor of the $1M grant to Rush’s non-profit organization. The grant was supposed to build a technology center in Chicago’s troubled Englewood neighborhood. According to reports from the BGA, the center was never built and the money was never accounted for. Shaw calls for an investigation into:

[Rush] maintains the money wasn’t stolen or squandered, but that claim, without verification, doesn’t suffice, so we’re suggesting some options for shining more light on the situation:

The House Ethics Committee can see if Rush crossed any legal or ethical lines in regards to the million-dollar grant, his charity accepting tons of money from regulated companies seeking his legislative help, and his campaign office apparently not paying rent.
The Federal Election Commission can look at whether Rush or his campaign operation violated federal law by apparently accepting free rent, not reporting it as an in-kind donation and possibly exceeding donation limits.
The Internal Revenue Service can investigate the tax implications of all this, including whether Rush’s nonprofit violated the law by wrongly claiming on one disclosure form the tech center had been built, which wasn’t true.
The IRS can also find out if Rush used campaign cash to enhance his personal lifestyle, which is what got former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in trouble.

Any such investigation would obviously focus on whether or not the grantor received anything of value in return for the no strings grant. Regardless of whether there was any impropriety in the transaction, the situation calls into question the professional judgment of Hightman.

Carrie Hightman, the Chair of the Gary P3 Committee, became Chief Legal Office for NiSource in 2007 after serving as CEO of AT&T Illinois, which was formerly SBC Illinois. In a statement released when Hightman joined NiSource, her experience in ” regulatory, legislative, governmental and external affairs activities, as well as community and industry relations, throughout Illinois” were cited. The statement went on to explain:

During her tenure at AT&T, Hightman led the company through a series of important public policy initiatives as AT&T evolved from a traditional telephone company into a provider of diversified communications and entertainment services, including wireline, wireless, data and video services. Under her leadership, AT&T secured unanimous regulatory approval of a landmark agreement to deregulate local telephone service and offer competitive pricing in the metropolitan Chicago market, as well as helped the company return to the long distance telephone market after a twenty-year absence.

The SBC Foundation states that they provide grants of $25,000 to $50,000. The Gazette could find no evidence of any other single grant in any amount near $1M. Additionally, the 990 tax forms submitted by the Rebirth of Englewood Community Development Corporation listed no such contribution, despite a specific question asking about “Unusual Grants.”

28 Unusual Grants: For an organization described in line 10, 11, or 12 that received any unusual grants during 20001hrough 2003, prepare a list for your records
to show, for each year, the name of the contributor, the date and amount of the grant, and a brief description of the nature of the grant. Do not file this list with
your return. Do not include these grants in line 15.
423121 12-03-04 NONE Schedule A (Form BBO or 990-EZ) 2004

Source: http://990s.foundationcenter.org/990_pdf_archive/364/364078159/364078159_200503_990.pdf
Hightman was instrumental in selecting the contractor that was recently approved by the airport board to run the airport for up to 40 years.  While this information was not disclosed to the airport board, the Gazette has previously reported on the connection between Hightman and one of the companies involved in the partnership that was ultimately selected.

The Better Government Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is not affiliated with the Northwest Indiana Gazette.  You can read the entire BGA article at their website  The Million Dollar Question


Pence Makes Multiple Board Appointments

21 Nov

Gazette Staff

Indianapolis, IN – Governor Mike Pence today named appointees to the Commission on Higher Education, the Horse Racing Commission, the State Ethics Commission, the Indiana Arts Commission, the Commission on Ports, and the Housing and Community Development Authority Board of Directors.

Commission on Higher Education

Caren B. Whitehouse of Vanderburgh County has been named to the Commission on Higher Education. She currently serves as Executive Director of the Vanderburgh County Medical Society. Whitehouse serves on the Pulmonary Fibrosis Board of Directors, the Healthy Evansville Steering Committee and the Vanderburgh County Perinatal Task Force. She is a graduate of the University of Evansville and Oakland City University. She will serve through June 30, 2015, effective immediately.

Horse Racing Commission

President and Chief Executive Officer of Pillow Logistics George E. Pillow Jr. will serve on the Horse Racing Commission. Previously, Pillow, of Marion County, served as Assistant Executive Administrator for the Department of Health and Human Services. Pillow was a 1984 recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash and has been inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame as well as the Indiana State University Hall of Fame. A graduate of Indiana State University, he will serve through September 1, 2015, effective immediately.

State Ethics Commission

Bob Jamison, retired from the New Albany Office of the FBI, Daryl Yost, Director of the Certified Technology Park of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, and James Clevenger, Partner at Wyland, Humphrey, Wagner & Cleveland have been reappointed to the State Ethics Commission. Clevenger will continue to serve in his role as Chairman, and the appointees will serve four-year terms through October 31, 2017, effective immediately.

Indiana Arts Commission

Allen C. Platt III, of Floyd County, will serve on the Indiana Arts Commission through June 30, 2017, effective immediately. Currently Counsel at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP, Platt is the 2004 recipient of the Arts Council of Southern Indiana’s Heartbeat Award. He is a graduate of Indiana University and Valparaiso University School of Law.

Jonathan Ford, of Vigo County, and Linda S. Levell, of Knox County, have been reappointed to the board and will serve through June 30, 2017.

Commission on Ports

Ramon Arredondo has been named to the Commission on Ports. Arredondo, of Lake County, retired in 2005 as Assistant to the Chairman at NiSource and has extensive experience working in both local and federal government positions. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Central Florida. Arredondo will serve through June 30, 2017, effective immediately.

Housing and Community Development Authority Board of Directors

Patricia Gamble-Moore, of Herron’s Fiduciary Committee, Thomas McGowan, President and Chief Operating Officer of Kite Realty Group Trust, and Lula Porter, Executive Director of the Evansville African American Museum have been reappointed to the Housing and Community Development Authority Board of Directors, effective immediately.

Utility Counselor Opposes Nipsco $1B Rate Hike

23 Oct



The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) does not object to most aspects of Northern Indiana Public Service Company’s (NIPSCO’s) proposed seven-year electric infrastructure replacement plan. However, the OUCC believes NIPSCO’s proposed methodology for recovering the plan’s $1.07 billion in costs should be denied.

The OUCC’s recommendations are included in testimony filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) this afternoon.

NIPSCO’s request is the first to be filed under a new Indiana law (Senate Enrolled Act 560) approved earlier this year.

  • The law allows an investor-owned energy utility to seek IURC approval of a seven-year infrastructure improvement plan.
  • If the plan is approved, the utility may then adjust rates every 6 months, subject to IURC and OUCC review, to recover 80 percent of the project costs as they are incurred. (The remaining 20 percent must be deferred until the utility’s next base rate case, which must be filed before the end of the seven-year period.)
  • The rate increases – under a new Transmission, Distribution, and Storage System Improvement Charge (TDSIC) mechanism – may not exceed two percent of the utility’s total annual retail revenues.

In IURC Cause No. 44370, NIPSCO is seeking approval of its seven-year “Electric Infrastructure Modernization Plan.”

  • Capital improvements throughout NIPSCO’s electric service territory in the $1.07 billion plan include new transmission and distribution lines, new substations, upgrades to existing lines and substations, and replacement of aging poles, transformers, line equipment and other infrastructure.
  • Under the case’s compressed timeframe, the OUCC has reviewed the plan and believes most aspects are reasonable and will benefit NIPSCO’s customers. However, the OUCC is recommending denial of NIPSCO’s request to use budgeted economic development funds for other purposes.
  • The OUCC also recommends several reporting requirements to be adopted and used throughout the seven-year period.
  • Under Indiana law, the IURC must issue a final order on the plan by February 14, 2014.

In IURC Cause No. 44371, NIPSCO is seeking establishment of the methodology for calculating future rate increases for the plan’s project costs.

  • According to NIPSCO’s testimony, annual rate increases through the TDSIC mechanism would average 0.9 percent each year over the seven-year term, with the first increase of 0.4 percent taking effect in 2015 and the last annual increase of 1.7 percent being implemented in 2020.
  • The OUCC’s analysis shows that NIPSCO’s proposed rate recovery mechanism will overestimate the utility’s need for additional revenue between rate cases, overcharge customers for capital expenses, and not accurately measure NIPSCO’s transmission and distribution rate base investment growth as it relates to investments whose costs are already embedded in base rates.
  • The OUCC’s analysis also shows that NIPSCO’s plan inflates the estimate of base rate growth and proposes cost allocators that are contrary to those required by statute.

An IURC technical evidentiary hearing in both cases is scheduled to start November 12, 2013 at the PNC Center (101 W. Washington St.) in Indianapolis. While evidentiary hearings are open to the public, participation is typically limited to attorney and Commission questioning of expert witnesses who have filed technical testimony on behalf of the case’s formal parties.

The proposals in these cases would not affect NIPSCO’s natural gas utility’s system, service or rates. NIPSCO is seeking approval of a seven-year natural gas infrastructure replacement plan in IURC Cause No. 44403. The natural gas case was filed recently, with the OUCC scheduled to file testimony on January 10, 2014.


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(IURC Cause Nos. 44370, 44371) 


The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC’s mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy, consumer education, and creative problem solving.