Moler, Edwards Eyed to Lead Foundering NGSA
Former Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Moler and Washington
attorney Katherine B. Edwards have made the list of candidates
being considered by the Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) to
succeed former President Nicholas J. Bush, who departed last month
amid allegations that he defrauded the trade group out of more than
$2.4 million, sources say.
Moler, who is now a partner in the Washington law firm of Vinson
and Elkins, also has been chair and a commissioner at the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), while Edwards is known for her
representation at FERC of major natural gas producers, such as
Exxon, Shell and BP Amoco. Also being eyed for the NGSA post are a
"couple" of other unidentified former FERC commissioners, another
Washington attorney and "what I call recycled oil and gas
executives," which include mid- to high-level producer executives
who have lost their jobs due to mergers or for other reasons, said
a source who requested anonymity.
"I'm not saying necessarily that [any of] these people will take
the job. All I can say is they're on the list," he stressed.
Most agree that snaring either Moler or Edwards, both of whom
have solid reputations in Washington, would go a long way toward
helping to restore NGSA's name, which was significantly tarnished
when it was discovered in late January that Bush allegedly had used
an elaborate consulting scheme to bilk the association out of
millions of dollars over a 12-year period. NGSA filed a civil
lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court last month seeking recovery of $2.43
million in missing funds, plus $5 million in punitive damages.
"...[I]n my mind I think there's one very clear choice of who
should have the job"-Edwards-because of her strong ties to the
producer community, the source noted. She's the "very obvious
person," he said, adding "I know [she's] on the list." Edwards
"tends to make the other candidates seem somewhat more pale" by
comparison. Asked if she was contacted by NGSA and/or was
considering the position, Edwards would only say "no comment." She
is a partner is the law firm of Grammer, Kissel, Robbins, Skancke
As for Moler, "I get the impression that [NGSA's] members would
very much like to have her come on board. But to tell you the
truth, I think she has better prospects elsewhere," the source told
NGI. He acknowledged Moler is considered an unlikely candidate for
a producer-advocacy position. But "in terms of what she did at the
Commission while she was chair, [NGSA was] very much in agreement
with" her. Like Edwards, Moler gave a "no comment" yesterday.
"I don't know if Moler has been contacted [by NGSA], whether
she's turned down the job or if she's giving it some thought," the
source noted. Veteran Washington insiders don't believe becoming
the next head of NGSA is on Moler's radarscope. Rather, a more
likely scenario has her setting her sights on becoming the next
energy secretary if the Democrats should win in 2000.
It was not clear who actually was at the top of the
association's list of candidates. "Some Houston people," the source
said, already "have turned it down" because they didn't want to
move to Washington. John Sharp, NGSA's vice president of federal
and state affairs and general counsel, has been in charge of the
day-to-day operations of the association since Bush's departure,
but he reportedly isn't being considered as a successor.
While the selection committee pores over the candidates, most
agree on one thing-that NGSA "needs to pick a leader and it needs
to do it soon."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington D.C. is
continuing an investigation that could culminate in the filing of
criminal charges against Bush. "I think that they [criminal
charges] will probably come eventually," but prosecutors first "may
need resolution of other issues, such as how much the association
is actually able to recover" of its missing funds, the source
noted. That issue is expected to be resolved in NGSA's civil action
Likewise, he believes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is
"sitting on the sidelines sort of waiting to get a final appraisal"
of what amount, if any, of the missing funds will be returned to
the association before deciding whether to take action. If none of
the funds are recovered, "I would expect that the IRS will then
bring criminal charges," the source said. On the other hand, Bush
conceivably could escape tax liability if he's able to pay back the
money he's accused of embezzling from NGSA, he noted.