The CBS46 Bulldog is questioning pay-for-play political donations as two candidates running for a little-known state commission are being accused of accepting campaign contributions from those they regulate, and not properly reporting it.

CBS46 News has learned a lot that may make taxpayers livid.

We're questioning the folks who regulate that you and I get safe, reliable and fairly-priced phone service, electricity and natural gas. But, when you see who donates to them, you may be asking -- like I did -- whose side are they on?

Two of the five incumbent commissioners on the state's Public Service Commission have been slapped with ethics complaints, claiming they took and didn't properly report campaign contributions from folks they regulate in their bids for re-election.

Government watchdog William Perry made the formal complaints against Tricia Pridemore and Chuck Eaton, claiming each took more than $65,000 without proper disclosure to the state, which would allow voters to see who's in whose pocket.

The CBS46 Bulldog Team called and emailed both Pridemore and Eaton. Both refused on-camera interviews, but sent us written statements.

Easton says the complaint is frivolous, and Pridemore claims in a long letter that an incorrect disclosure form was to blame, and claims she herself brought this to the attention of the ethics committee.

Finally, set aside the issue of campaign finance reporting -- what really caught our eye? The sheer number of folks donating to these candidates who appear to have ties to the industries they regulate.

That list is long, according to campaign finance disclosures our team reviewed. It's important to note it's not illegal for the candidates to accept those donations.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. 

Chief Investigative Reporter

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