Wisconsin court sides with former PSC member in line dispute

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority has sided with a former member of the state Public Service Commission who did not want  Opponents argued the evidence showed that former PSC Commissioner Mike Huebsch had at least an appearance of bias when he voted to approved the $492 million project in 2019 and because of that the permit should be invalidated
(KTVF)
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 9:23 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Thursday sided with a former member of the state Public Service Commission who did not want to turn over his cellphone in a fight over approval of a new power line.

Opponents argued the evidence showed that former PSC Commissioner Mike Huebsch had at least an appearance of bias when he voted to approved the $492 million project in 2019 and because of that the permit should be invalidated. Huebsch is a former Republican speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly and past member of former Gov. Scott Walker's Cabinet.

The Supreme Court, in its 4-3 ruling, did not address the approval of the power line. Instead, the court said the lower courts were wrong to rule that Huebsch should have to turn over his cellphone to be searched for messages he may have sent or received with those connected to the power line.

Huebsch had argued that commission members enjoy a presumption of impartiality and it is possible to set aside personal relationships when deciding cases. Huebsch also argued that the communications were purely personal ones between friends.

Those communications, some of which were done using an encrypted messaging app, included Huebsch’s attempts to land a job with Dairyland Power Cooperative, one of the utilities behind the 102-mile Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line that is being built from Middleton, Wisconsin, to Dubuque, Iowa. Huebsch, who started a private consulting company, did not get the job.