Bob Anthony ends inquiry in 17-year-old SBC case

Wednesday, June 25th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony abruptly ended his inquiry Wednesday into a 17-year-old telephone company case he says was tainted by bribery.

Anthony made his announcement at a hearing of the three-member commission, which regulates public utilities.

Denise Bode, commission chairwoman, had scheduled the meeting to determine if the regulatory agency should close the case, which grew out of a federal tax law change that affected Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., which has changed its name to SBC.

Bode and fellow Commissioner Jeff Cloud were preparing an order to formally end the case.

At a hearing Tuesday, Anthony questioned whether a commission decision in the 1986 case was tainted by a bribery scandal. He said it could be invalid because of the bribe of a former commissioner who voted in the case.

After Wednesday's hearing, Anthony said he had done his best to shed light on extraordinary circumstances surrounding the case, including releasing an FBI recording in which a former SBC vice president gave him $2,450 in his office in 1989.

``I think I've met my responsibility,'' he said.

Anthony said there was no sentiment among the other two commissioners or staff to pursue the case and for all practical purposes it is over.

Although saying ``any little lady in tennis shoes'' could pursue the case in court, he said it would cost an estimated $200,000 to present evidence he has placed in the public record.

He contends the bribery conviction of former Commissioner Bob Hopkins taints the case since Hopkins provided a key vote in the original order.

Hopkins and former Bell attorney Bill Anderson were convicted and sentenced to prison.