Davis consultants settle taxpayer lawsuit, give up $50,000 in fees | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Davis consultants settle taxpayer lawsuit, give up $50,000 in fees

SACRAMENTO (AP) – Two controversial energy consultants to Gov. Gray Davis have agreed to forgo more than $50,000 in work they did for the state.

Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani will forgive the payments as part of a settlement with a Sacramento-area resident who filed a lawsuit objecting to their hiring, a Davis aide confirmed Monday.

Fabiani and Lehane could not be reached for comment Monday.

Disclosure of the settlement comes after Davis’ office hastily ended the contracts of five consultants who helped negotiate state power contracts and held stock in energy companies.

About two dozen Davis energy consultants were required to fill out financial disclosure statements after complaints of conflict of interest by Republicans and consumer groups.

”When we reviewed them, we found possible violations of the law and took swift action,” Davis spokesman Steve Maviglio said.

Davis also has come under fire for his May hiring of Lehane, former press secretary for Vice President Al Gore, and Fabiani, a deputy campaign manager for Gore’s presidential run.

They were hired to help shape Davis’ response to the energy crisis, and helped craft Davis’ aggressive attack on Texas-based energy companies and President Bush.

Both also have advised Southern California Edison, which is negotiating for state help in avoiding bankruptcy. Financial disclosure forms showed they have each received at least $10,000 from Edison in the past year.

Davis announced at the end of June that he terminated Fabiani’s contract and scaled back Lehane’s role with the state.

State Controller Kathleen Connell then said she would not pay Lehane and Fabiani for any of their work and now the two have agreed they will not fight her decision, Maviglio said.

Lewis K. Uhler, the Placer County man who filed the lawsuit against the consultants, said the settlement ”accomplished our objectives.”

”We wanted to block the egregious use of taxpayer funds for essentially political spinmeisters,” he said. Uhler is president of the Roseville-based National Tax Limitation Committee.

Maviglio said that Fabiani and Lehane ”did good work for the state” and helped the state win victories with federal regulators.

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