No conflict of interest in Constellation hiring of Max Curran

May 14, 2011

Jay Hancock's article regarding the hiring of Max Curran by Constellation Energy Group ("Lawyer makes Constellation-Exelon deal a family affair for O'Malley," May 8) appears to imply there may have been some type of conflict of interest under state ethics law, given that Mr. Curran is a former PSC commissioner and the brother-in-law of Gov. Martin O'Malley.

State law prohibits former commissioners from appearing before the Public Service Commission for a two-year period following their service on the commission. In addition, former commissioners are also proscribed from engaging as an attorney on matters in which they had significant involvement while working at the commission.

Mr. Curran clearly complied with these restrictions. As your columnist notes, Mr. Curran's service on the commission terminated in 2005 — well beyond the two-year restriction period.

Moreover, the hearing on any proposed merger application by Constellation Energy Group and Exelon would be within the jurisdiction of the PSC, not the governor's office. The PSC is an independent agency headed by five commissioners who each serve set terms of office. There is no conflict in Mr. Curran's representing Constellation before the commission in this matter.

Even if the state ethics law extended to "siblings-in-law," as seemingly advocated by Mr. Hancock, it would not affect Constellation's right to engage the services of Mr. Curran before the commission. At most, it would pose a potential impediment to any involvement by the governor's office in this important issue of great public interest.

Joel Bright, Columbia

The writer is a former chief hearing examiner of the Maryland Public Service Commission.

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