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Former Md. public service official accused of conflict in utility merger

Group wants Pepco-Excelon merger vote annulled due to alleged conflict of interest.

ID=27422499WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Advocacy group Public Citizen leveled conflict of interest allegations Tuesday at a former Maryland Public Service Commissioner who cast the deciding vote to approve of a merger between energy giant Exelon and Pepco, the utility that serves Washington, D.C. and Maryland.

The group said that they have insider knowledge that Kelly Speakes-Backman was in talks with an industry-backed organization, Alliance to Save Energy, about taking a senior vice president position while the Exelon merger decision was pending. She then she accepted that position after her term as Commissioner expired, shortly after the merger vote.

"Speakes-Backman's failure to recuse herself from voting on the Exelon-Pepco merger while negotiating employment with an organization tied to and financed by Exelon Corp. constitutes a clear conflict of interest," said Tyson Slocum, Director of Public Citizen's Energy Program. "As a result, the court must invalidate the PSC's approval of the Exelon-Pepco transaction, and remand it back to the commission for reconsideration."

Attorneys for Public Citizen filed a petition in the Circuit Court for Queen Anne's County, Md., asking that it review the Commission's vote in light of what they are deeming "new evidence."

Speakes-Backman provided WUSA9 with this response, via email, Tuesday:

"My vote was based on a thorough review of the all the facts of the case, as they applied to the requirements of the law. There was absolutely no connection between my vote on the merger and my search for a job following the Governor's announcement of my replacement on the Commission."

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