Photo: Ryan Graham

The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not necessarily those of AllOnGeorgia. It has been published in its entirety without edits by AOG.

Ryan Graham is the former Libertarian candidate for Public Service Commission. In a three-way race with Republican Chuck Eaton and Democrat Lindy Miller on November 6th, Graham garnered 102,878 votes, or 2.67%, while Eaton & Miller garnered 49.70% and 47.63% respectively. 

Any candidate, past or present, is welcome to submit an op-ed to AllOnGeorgia for publication.

As a candidate for state office in Georgia this fall, I heard from thousands of voters feeling left behind by Georgia politics. Those voices of dissent and discontent voted for libertarian candidates, confounding outright wins by same-old Republicans and Democrats. They rejected the status quo and corrupt bureaucrats. Many of those voters, myself included, will be faced with that status quo again in December 4 run-offs.

I campaigned against the outrageously disingenuous incumbent failing to represent District 3 on the Public Service Commission(PSC). His campaign was overwhelmingly funded by companies he is elected to regulate, most notably Georgia Power, Southern Company. Donations are disguised through lobbyists and law firms who represent those special interests.

During his campaign and when I questioned him in debate, the incumbent claimed Georgian’s power bills had gone up “not one dime in over six years.” Confronted with objective evidence that working families pay more to Georgia Power year after year (EIA study) he confessed his statistics and talking points were provided by…Georgia Power.

The PSC’s duty is to advocate for consumers against state-appointed monopolies. When competition is illegal, prices rise and quality falls, as anyone who has interacted with power companies can verify.

Monopoly power companies are not only charging Georgians higher prices and special fees, they’ve successfully convinced incumbent politicians to allow them to profit from power they haven’t produced.

The $28 Billion boondoggle in Waynesboro guarantees Georgia Power a minimum profit. Tasked with “overseeing” its own use of public money, the company put taxpayer funds at risk and protected shareholder returns.  Cost projections have doubled, but the PSC approved increases guaranteeing Georgia Power $5 Billion in profits without a single kilowatt generated. Dutiful PSC cronies, their campaign coffers stuffed with power company dollars vote to reward failure again and again. An elected official cannot demand accountability or transparency from a monopoly when he is dependent on its donations.

I’ve fielded many calls and emails this month asking if my campaign – 100,000+ voters strong – would endorse either the sitting Republican or the challenging Democrat. I will not. Were either candidate on the right side of enough issues to earn my endorsement, my own campaign would not have been necessary.

But I will cast a vote in this run-off: I will vote for Lindy Miller. I hope the 100,000+ courageous voters who challenged the system will also find Miller a superior choice.

Democrats usually count on the support of unions and ‘organized labor’ in exchange for make-work projects at public expense. Miller has not received those endorsements, and that’s a good sign. Unions see she’ll question cost overruns and wasted dollars – exactly what the PSC should be doing but hasn’t. She’s demanding proof that Plant Vogtle and the (hypothetical) jobs created there will be a wise investment for taxpayers, not unexamined kick-backs for campaign donors.

The PSC, designated to represent your interests and stand up to its own crony donors, has 5 commissioners all of whom are big government, tax-and-spend Republicans. Lindy Miller will challenge discussions that routinely end in 5-0 or 0-5 decisions. The strength of Miller’s campaign is her fierce advocacy for consumers and apparent willingness to fight the status quo.

Customers forced to do business with just one power provider need a champion bulldog, not a corporate lapdog. We need someone on the PSC asking the hard questions. I genuinely hoped it could be me, and I thank the tens of thousands of you who joined me in voting for that vision. AT least one candidate has endorsed consumer choice, because your concerns tipped an election.

So while I won’t endorse my former opponent Lindy Miller for PSC 3,  I will be voting for her. I hope you’ll consider it, too.

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  1. Ryan Graham nails it with this:

    “Customers forced to do business with just one power provider need a champion bulldog, not a corporate lapdog. We need someone on the PSC asking the hard questions.”

    Ryan’s “support without endorsement” may be a distinction without much of a difference, but regardless of his support for Miller he sounds like he gets it more than either of the other candidates.

  2. I ran for the Republican nomination for Public Service Commission in the 5th district this spring. Despite being outspent nearly 30:1, I ended up with 47%, nearly 250,000 Georgia Republican voters. My message was simple, the current PSC is too deep in the pockets of the utilities they regulate; Georgians deserve a consumer advocate on the PSC. Their involvement wasn’t hard to trace as 70% of the incumbent’s campaign funds come from the execs with utilities and companies tied to utilities; 50%+ from execs from Georgia Power and Southern Company alone. My message resonated in Savannah area where I won Chatham and Effingham Counties. Utility special interests were not to be out done. This week it was revealed an organization formed after the general election and has put up $1 million of dark money to get Chuck Eaton re-elected. This group, Georgians for a Brighter Georgia, has direct ties with people from Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power. Ask yourself, why are they so invested in Commissioner Eaton’s re-election? The answer to that is not hard to surmise. Since the primary I have endorsed Lindy Miller, the Democrat. She is the consumer advocate from my platform this spring. I am not alone in going against party lines on this issue. Debbie Dooley, co-founder of Atlanta Tea Party has also endorsed Lindy. Ryan Graham, the Libertarian candidate for PSC has also come out in support of Miller. It must say a lot about Lindy Miller that such a diverse group of ideologies can see eye to eye on her being the best candidate. It also must say a lot about the poor job Chuck Eaton has done representing Georgians in his 12 years in office. Time Drain the PSC Swamp and tell outside groups our utilities are not for sale. Join me on Tuesday in voting for Lindy Miller.

  3. Republican support for Lindy Miller for Public Service Commission

    Public Service Commissioners are tasked with being consumer watchdogs when it comes to regulated industries. Unfortunately, current PSC Commissioner Chuck Eaton has forgotten that. He is one of the closest allies Georgia Power has on the Public Service Commission and he has sided with Georgia Power when it comes to the Plant Vogtle project mismanagement. Considering the amount of money Georgia Power is pouring into this race to make sure Chuck Eaton is re-elected, there is not much doubt that the costs of Vogtle will increase even higher than they already have with even more delays. Georgia Power wants to make sure they have the votes on the PSC to make rate-payers responsible for the massive cost overruns through higher electricity rates.

    We feel that this Public Service Commission race should not be partisan. It should be policy over party. The criteria to determine how to vote should be who is the person Georgia consumers can count on to represent them and look out for their best interests and not the interests of industries that fill the campaign coffers of incumbents. This race should be about policy-not political party. We strongly believe that Democrat Lindy Miller is the best candidate for this position. We trust her to be a consumer champion that will stand up to special interests and will look out for the pocketbook of Georgians.

    Atlanta Tea Party President Debbie Dooley stated, “I am a lifelong conservative Republican activist and co-founder of the national tea party movement and for the very first time in my life, I am supporting a Democrat for elective office. I have been very disgusted with the corruption and pay for play politics I see going on within the PSC runoff. Georgia Power funded dark money group “Georgians for a Brighter Future” has spent at least one million dollars on independent expenditures to help incumbent Chuck Eaton win re-election. A vote for Mr. Eaton is a vote to rubber stamp this type of pay for play corruption and a vote to give Georgia Power continued control of the PSC.”

    John Hitchins who ran for the Republican nomination for PSC 5th district this spring said, “My platform was to stand up against the status quo within the Public Service Commission. My aim was to be the consumer advocate on the Commission and represent Georgians interests over special interests. Lindy Miller is that consumer advocate and that is why she has my vote.”

    Dooley further added, “I encourage my fellow Republicans to join me in saying no to corruption and support change on the Public Service Commission by voting for Lindy Miller.”


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