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Critics Unhappy With Kamala Harris' Approach To San Onofre Probe

April 5, 2016 2 p.m.

Critics Unhappy With Kamala Harris' Approach To San Onofre Probe

Related Story: Critics Unhappy With Kamala Harris' Approach To San Onofre Probe

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This week we have been taking a closer look at California's U.S. Senate race. As California, representative Camilla harassed while replace the current candidate. They are conducting a criminal probe. Harris is investigating how customers got left with the cost of the closure of the San Onofre nuclear plant. As part of our California Counts coverage, KPBS reporter found that Harris launched the probe with a punch. Ratepayer advocates say since then it has gone nowhere.
With one searched last year, Camilla Harris up ended the Public Utilities Commission and they had claimed a deal that left ratepayers with they 50 point -- $50 million bill. This was the product of hard-fought negotiations tween ratepayer advocates in the power company. But when Harris secured a search warrant, at the La Cañada Flintridge home of Michael Peevey a different story emerged. Investigators found handwritten notes that showed Peevey had met with a executive in Poland. To come up with a settlement that closely resembled the final agreements.
That was one of the most remarkable pieces of investigative work I have seen the last 40 years.
It was the kind of work that Michael Gary says it makes people fall in love with their leaders. He contend Harris is jilting her constituents.
There was no follow up.
Six months afterwards, the attorney general obtained another search warrant. This time it was for the centers of power in the Senate no free case in the offices of state regulars. The investigators never went in and inexplicably they handed the warrant to both Edison and the PUC asking them to turn over all documents and communications regarding the San Onofre settlement. A former federal prosecutor call that approach halfhearted.
You don't drop it off in the front door and say send me your records. That's the point of the search warrant. You execute the search warrant and you seize the records because you are concerned they will disappear.
He argues using the full power of the search warrant is necessary to get justice.
There's so much behind the unlawful conduct, the search warrant is only the only device you can use unless you have some sort of wiretap capability.
Edison has turned over some records to the Attorney General. But they have withheld many documents alleging limited resources and claiming they are privilege. Harris has not challenge the assertion. Former federal prosecutor says the Attorney General will likely prevail if she did.
The PUC is the state. The state is the client. That's who controls the privilege. That it's who is capable of waving it. The person at the top of the state is Governor Brown and he can waive the privilege.
Governor Brown's office has exchanged emails discussing San Onofre. The PUC is refusing to release those emails. The only person who has pushed to make communications public is a Gary, not Harris. He also asked for a judge to be removed from the case because he had gone to law school with Governor Brown. It's puzzling that Attorney General has not made such efforts.
She has no presence and no leadership. Have no sense of her being out front and saying we're charging forward to do what's right.
She has also remained silent on another part of the case. The PUC's law firm is representing the agency and its employees. The practice is frowned upon by prosecutors because it in -- it intimidates whistleblowers.
They know the same person representing them is Representative permit -- representing their supervisors.
Harris could require the PUC to retain separate counsel. Charles Langley believes the politics of her Senate bid is influencing her investigation into San Onofre.
This is a scandal the very likely implicate Governor Jerry Brown a powerful Democrat, Michael key be who is also accused, a powerful Democrat and his wife as an elected, powerful Democrat.
Amita Sharma joined us in studio.
What does Kamala Harris have to say?
Her office would not answer any questions they said that the Attorney General does not comment on ongoing investigations.
Do you think this is going to become an issue with Harris is bid to replace Barbara Boxer?
I don't know that Camilla Harrises criminal investigation into how the San Onofre agreement was hatched is on the radar of Democratic or Republican rivals in the US Senate race. I don't know it is on the radar of the public. And I don't know that people really care. Ironically, Harris is seeking to replace the center for, over boxer who is retiring after four terms. Senator boxer really was aggressive in getting to the bottom -- or trying to get to the bottom of why the steam janitor -- generators at the power plant broke down in early 2012. In 2013, she called on the US Justice Department to open a criminal inquiry into Southern California Edison and the deployment of the steam generators.
Now Harris is running against Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez from orange County. Tell us about their politics. How do you compare Harris to Sanchez? There doesn't seem to be too big a contrast if any. Between the two. Harris supports President Barack Obama's is free tuition at community colleges. They both back a boost in the minimum ways. They both favor immigration reform. There is contrast in their styles. Harris is cautious and careful in a speech is. Sanchez can be brass. December, she said five 220% of Muslims appear -- support terrorism. She got criticism for that. As attorney general, Harris has more statewide name recognition than Sanchez. His congressional district is confined to orange County. Demographics however -- may give Sanchez, a Latina, and edge. 18% of likely voters this year will be Latina and 60% are expected to be white, 12% Asian, 6% black. Harris, as you know is up Jamaican and Indian percent.
Before we talk about Republicans in the race, how are Harris and Sanchez polling?
The latest poll from USC durance five and Los Angeles times was released last month. It shows Harris leading Sanchez 19% among registered voters. What about
What about the Republicans? Is there a challenger that stand a chance?
There are three challengers, the realities seem to ensure the seat will remain in the hands of Kratz. Democrats outnumber by 15 percentage points. The poll I recited, it showed that Republicans -- Tom [ name unknown ] comes in with 18%, followed by Art Sondheim with 6%, and run [ name unknown ] was not included because he had just entered the race.
The primary is June 7. That won't be the end of it.
The two top vote getters in that June primary will face off in the November election regardless of party affiliation.
We could easily have a Democrat versus a Democrat in the general election.
That is more than likely.
Amita Sharma as an investigative reporter for KPBS . This story is part of our California Counts election coverage.