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Ethics Commission Delays Ruling on Alabama Power Request on Gifts

By Associated Press

Montgomery AL – Alabama Power Co. asked the state ethics commission Wednesday if the utility has to report gifts to a public official that are given because an Alabama Power employee is their friend or neighbor, not because of their public office.

The commission, which delayed a ruling until its next meeting in December, was advised by its counsel, Hugh Evans, that the question was difficult to answer.

"We are trying to avoid giving people a reason not to report," he said.

Power company spokeswoman Carrie Kurlander said the question was an attempt to clarify the state's reporting requirements and "not necessarily" related to Attorney General Troy King attending an Atlanta Braves game with family and friends from his church in an Alabama Power luxury box at Turner Field in 2006.

"We're just seeking clarification," Kurlander said. "There are 6,700 employees throughout Alabama. We need to know what is expected of us."

"The law has a broad scope and we were just seeking an interpretation of the law," Kurlander said.

The Ethics Commission also delayed ruling on a power company query about whether it could provide free concert tickets or other items of value to a public school teacher who has been selected "teacher of the year" and if those awards had to be reported under provisions of the ethics law.

On another question, the commission said Alabama Power did not have to report pay or company perks given to employees who also happen to be members of a local city council or other public board.

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