GOP candidates clash on ethics

ATLANTA --- Republican candidates for the Public Service Commission traded shots Wednesday over campaign contributions from lawyers and employees of the utilities the agency regulates.

The candidates for the two seats up for election met in a series of debates sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club and streamed online by Georgia Public Broadcasting. They'll face off in the July 15 primary to determine the nominees from each party for the November election.

Republicans Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, who is trying to reclaim the 4th District seat he lost six years ago, and energy lobbyist Pam Davidson clashed over ethics. She criticized him for accepting donations from lawyers who represent companies regulated by the commission -- which is legal -- and he accused her of sending solicitation letters to gas marketing companies subject to commission regulation even though they're not legally permitted to make donations to her campaign.

The Democrats for the 4th District compared their professional backgrounds. Bob Indech, an engineer, stressed his technical expertise while Jim Powell, a retired manager with the U.S. Department of Energy, focused on the policy-making aspects of the commission.

GOP challenger Rick Collum blasted Republican incumbent Doug Everett for voting for every rate increase to come before the commission. Mr. Everett said they were justified so Georgia Power could keep up with growth and reduce mercury emissions.