Nevins resigns as CEG's PR executive

Merger facilitator returns to his firm

October 19, 2006|By Paul Adams | Paul Adams,sun reporter

David H. Nevins, a politically connected marketing executive hired to help Constellation Energy Group in the lead-up to its proposed merger with a Florida utility, has left the post to return to the public relations firm he founded in 1984.

Nevins was hired in September last year to be Constellation's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, a position created by the company a few months before it announced its proposed merger with Juno Beach, Fla.-based FPL Group Inc.

As part of the energy giant's inner circle, Nevins would have been in position to create a national brand for the combined company, a task that has been left in doubt in the face of political and legal roadblocks to completing the merger, now valued at $12 billion.

Nevins, who was essentially on leave from his post as head of Nevins & Associates, said the length of his tenure at Constellation was never certain from the start. His resignation was effective Friday.

"There's not much to it other than the fact that I've had a public relations business for 20-plus years and I just decided it was time to return to it on a more full-time basis," he said.

Nevins, a public face for the company in the early days after the merger plan was announced, was the target of an investigation into whether he had broken ethics rules by lobbying for Constellation while chairman of the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents.

The controversy stemmed from Nevins' involvement in setting up and attending meetings between legislative leaders and his employer, Constellation Energy. A 1999 policy bars regents from engaging in lobbying activities before the General Assembly.

The investigation cleared Nevins of misconduct, finding that he had done little more than make introductions. But he was fined $2,000 in September for exceeding a campaign contribution limit set by law. Nevins, who state records show has contributed to prominent Republicans and Democrats, exceeded the $10,000 limit by $2,000.

As chief marketing officer, Nevins was in on key strategy meetings as Constellation faced angry lawmakers and public officials concerned about the merger and a planned 72 percent electric rate increase at the company's utility subsidiary, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

The feud resulted in legislation that has left in question whether the state utility commission can legally rule on the merger. FPL has filed suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court seeking resolution to the matter, but the merger remains in regulatory limbo, and its future is in doubt.

Neither the ethics questions nor frustration over Constellation's stalled merger plans were behind his decision to leave, Nevins said. He said he remains on friendly terms with Constellation Chief Executive Officer Mayo A. Shattuck III and his management team.

"The [merger] issue is certainly frustrating to everybody, and hopefully, one way or another, it will get resolved soon," Nevins said. "It's less about that and them than it is just about me and my company and its future."

Constellation confirmed Nevins' departure but declined to comment further.

"David has made the decision to focus his efforts on running his public relations firm," Constellation spokesman Rob Gould said.

Nevins' firm lists telecommunications companies and cable, utility and restaurant interests as clients. The business has grown despite his reduced involvement in the past year, and some clients have recently expressed interest in expanding their business with the firm. That contributed to his desire to dedicate more time to the firm, he said.

"I guess I would say I followed my heart," Nevins said.

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