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Former regulatory lawyer reprimanded

– The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded a former regulatory attorney for negotiating a job for himself with Duke Energy Corp. while presiding over a case involving millions of dollars in cost overruns at a Duke project.

The court voted 5-0 this week to reprimand Scott Storms, whom Duke later fired amid an ethics flap over the utility’s dealings with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the Indianapolis Star reported Thursday.

A reprimand is the lightest possible punishment for legal misconduct.

Storms was the IURC’s general counsel and chief administrative law judge in 2010 when it considered whether to pass along to customers cost overruns at Duke’s coal-gasification project in Edwardsport, about 60 miles north of Evansville.

Storms has repeatedly said he didn’t mislead his supervisors and didn’t compromise his duties, but he agreed to the reprimand. A phone message seeking comment was left for Storms on Thursday.

Storms left the IURC in September 2010 to take a job as regulatory lawyer with Duke Energy.

The utility fired Storms two months later, after the Star reported he had been discussing a job with Duke for months while the cost overrun case was pending.

The Indiana State Ethics Commission concluded in 2011 that Storms violated state law. The ethics panel fined him about $12,000 and barred him from future state employment.

Also implicated in the scandal was David Lott Hardy, who was fired as IURC chairman by then-Gov. Mitch Daniels for misconduct. Hardy was indicted on four charges of misconduct, but a Marion county judge dismissed the charges last year. The Indiana Attorney General’s office is appealing that ruling.

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