Watts: Events Won't Spoil Tenure with Commission

Article excerpt

Outgoing state Corporation Commissioner J.C. Watts Jr. said recent controversial events won't overshadow accomplishments achieved by the commission during his tenure with the agency.

Watts is referring to the current controversy over his seat on the regulatory agency and the recent case in which an Oklahoma City attorney and former Commissioner Bob Hopkins were convicted of bribery charges stemming from a Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. case.

The commission is currently involved in a battle concerning who should legally replace Watts when he resigns to become U.S. representative for the 4th District of Oklahoma _ Charles Nesbitt, appointed by Gov. David Walters, or Ed Apple, Governor-elect Frank Keating's appointee.

During the bribery case, which predated Watts' entry to the commission, former Southwestern Bell attorney William L. Anderson said he gave Watts some "walkin' around money" during his 1990 campaign for corporation commissioner. Watts has said that Anderson had given him about $1,200 to $1,400 "as a campaign contribution that was documented properly and legally."

"Those events are not going to overshadow the fact that I voted for over about $305 million in refunds and rate reductions vs. about $40 million worth of rate increases during my four years at the commission," Watts said.

"My character has been tested more in this time at the commission than any other time in my 37 years," he said. "However, I'm sure that in Congress. . .I'll have my character tested to even greater lengths."

Watts has served as chairman of the regulatory agency the past two years.

As chairman, Watts said he wanted to set the tone and course for a regulatory agency that can be proactive rather than reactive.

"I think a proactive regulatory posture serves us much better in a climate of competition than a reactive one," Watts said.

"I have chaired this agency through probably what has been the most difficult times in modern times this agency has experienced," Watts said. …

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