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UCAN Demands Former Executive Director Return $474,000

— KPBS has received a copy of a letter in which the chairman of the Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) demands the return of $474,019 allegedly taken by the group's former executive director, Michael Shames.

Michael Shames talks to KPBS Evening Edition in May 2012.
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Above: Michael Shames talks to KPBS Evening Edition in May 2012.

Aired 10/4/12 on KPBS News.

The chairman of the board of the Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) demands Michael Shames return hundreds of thousands in "bonuses."

The letter is signed by UCAN board chairman Kendall Squires. He writes that bonuses received by Michael Shames were "unauthorized and improper." In fact, the letter speaks of bonuses Shames awarded to himself, without the approval or even the knowledge of UCAN's board of directors.

"Your compensation was modified every year since 2004," the letter states, "and yet we find no record that it was modified with the Board's authority. Nor was UCAN's Board asked to approve the methodology you used to calculate your bonus payments."

The letter says UCAN payment records were reviewed in cooperation with the California Attorney General's office.

UCAN is known for aggressively lobbying to protect energy consumers in San Diego. But recent scandals have spurred investigations by the attorney general and the FBI.

Michael Shames could not be reached for comment.

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