On March 23, the D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Exelon’s takeover of Pepco in a contentious 2-1 vote. Within hours, Exelon dissolved Pepco by suspending the trading of Pepco stock. This move resulted in $1.6 billion windfall for shareholders – a nice chunk of which went to Pepco executives – and allowed Exelon to claim that the deal was done.

Pepco’s CEO Joe Rigby, cashed out nearly $25 million in Pepco stock before retiring and turning the Pepco (a company of Exelon) reigns over to David Velazquez (who made $5 million on the sale).

But in Exelon’s haste to make it rain for Pepco shareholders, it cast aside one important detail:

Exelon’s takeover of Pepco still has two hurdles to clear.  worse-than-pepco.2

Opponents of the takeover have 30 days to ask the PSC for reconsideration, meaning they can appeal to the commission to change its mind and undo the merger. If reconsideration fails, opponents can then appeal to the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Exelon’s move to consummate the takeover just hours after the PSC vote to approve is a deliberate move to abridge the rights of opponents of the deal. It runs afoul of Exelon’s own argument that an order is not final until the commission has ruled on a parties’ request for reconsideration and it reveals a core component of Exelon’s strategy to handicap legal challenges to the takeover.

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It’s a great week for democracy.

Public Citizen is preparing for Democracy Awakening this weekend – three days of workshops, trainings, rallies, music, advocacy and direct action to kick big money out of the political process, end limitations on voting rights, and to demand the Senate vote on a Supreme Court nominee.

This week we saw the DC community, and the nation at large, stand behind Democracy Spring. Organizers of that movement marched from Philadelphia to Washington, DC before holding daily rallies and sit-ins at the Capitol to demand the end to corporate corruption of government. Over 400 people were arrested in one day, filling the nearby jail to capacity – and arrests of peaceful protesters continued throughout the week.

CAP Action also gathered a group of fierce advocates for the public interest earlier this week. They discussed the challenges to voting rights and transparency that are currently convoluting our political process and disenfranchising millions.

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By Rachel Curley

sunset-powerlines-prettyYesterday the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2) and the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi) released a report detailing which of America’s top 25 investor owned utility companies are choosing to adapt to the changing business landscape as a result of climate change and which are not.

The report, titled The Top 25 U.S. Electric Utilities: Climate Change, Corporate Governance and Politics shows that while some utility companies are taking steps to change their business practices to adapt to the challenges posed by climate change, others are digging in their heels and going so far as to spend heavily in politics and engage in litigation to protect the status quo.

“Rather than changing the energy mix or seeking innovation that can reduce capital costs, some utilities are deploying their resources toward court battles and political influence,” says IRRCi’s Executive Director, Jon Lukomnik.

This report aims to be a resource for investors looking to know more about a certain company’s policies regarding climate change and for companies to see how they stack up against their peers. The 117- page report uses 12 metrics to measure each company’s climate change orientation including but not limited to potential legal liability, political activity spending and public policy position disclosure, corporate political activity governance, and litigation.

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Corporate crime shouldn’t pay. And company executives certainly shouldn’t be given bonuses when their company commits one of the most outrageous environmental crimes in memory.

But that’s exactly what Volkswagen executives are seeking.

News reports say executives at VW – the company reeling from the emissions-cheating scandal – are refusing to forego scheduled bonuses.

Volkswagen has admitted to installing software designed to evade emissions rules. The company deliberately deceived consumers and regulators, consciously poisoning the air with gases that cause respiratory illness and exacerbate climate change.

The fallout from the scandal, executives say, threatens the company’s very existence – yet those same executives want to collect bonuses!

It’s as if the executives at the shipping company that owned the Titantic demanded bonuses a few months after the ocean liner went down.

The decision to award the bonuses will not be formally published until April 28, so there’s still time for VW to get some sense.

Robert Weissman is the president of Public Citizen

Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform have collected more than 21,000 signatures from people in agreement: Students deserve their day in court if universities are ripping them off — and the Department of Education should not facilitate predatory colleges by giving them federal funding.

Click to view individual petitions and signers:

Public Citizen (10,277 signers)
Americans for Financial Reform (11,145 signers)

Three weeks ago, Public Citizen formally petitioned the Department of Education to consider a rule to withhold federal Title IV funding from colleges and universities that bury forced arbitration clauses in students’ enrollment contracts. Our press release can be found here .

These arbitration clauses, usually buried in the fine print of an enrollment contract, bar students from seeking justice in court if the students feel their schools do not live up to their end of the deal. For-profit colleges have been using these clauses to ensure students can’t hold the colleges accountable in court, but are instead subjected to a private arbitration process that favors large corporations and their lawyers.

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