Sander Mooy, an assistant Utah attorney general who has championed consumer rights in antitrust cases, has been confirmed as the new administrative secretary of the state Committee of Consumer Services.
His confirmation by the committee board ends an impasse over the firing of the former secretary, Joseph Ingles. The removal of Ingles by Constance White, director of the Utah Department of Commerce, sparked protests by committee members and advocates that the group should have more immunity from political influence.The committee is charged by statute with looking out for the interests of the residential, small-business and agricultural users of utilities.
White appointed Mooy, and the committee board unanimously approved the appointment.
Mooy was the assistant attorney general appointed to represent the committee from 1986 to 1990. He has worked to end monopolistic practices involving satellite television and medical services, including a notable case in the medical field that involved marketing of a drug called Clozaril, used to treat schizophrenics.
Mooy told the Deseret News that he has a good relationship with not only committee members but also Ingles.
"I do view it as an appointed position," he said. It is not a merit position, so if the governor or theofficials serving the governor want him removed, he is out of office, he said.
"I understand the committee's concern, and I empathize with their viewpoint," he said.
Mooy takes over the new job on Monday.
Richard F. McKean, a committee member from Salt Lake City, representing the state's large communities, said Mooy is "very, very qualified - no question about him. . . . We didn't have any reservations about his competence."
The committee wasn't so disturbed about losing Ingles, though it wanted to keep him as secretary, but was concerned about losing status in its efforts to protect the consumers, he said.
"That's the main issue," McKean said. "It's hard for us to realize that we can be governed by any political body" because the committee represents all Utah consumers. If the Department of Commerce or Division of Public Utilities can dictate, he asked, "then where lies our strength to represent the people?"
A letter from the committee to White said Mooy's confirmation was in the best interest of the state's utility ratepayers.
"Although the committee has no reservations about Mr. Mooy's competence to fill his new position, questions remain about the statutory authority of the Department of Commerce to unilaterally terminate the committee's administrative secretary," the letter says.
"The committee will not hesitate in the future to challenge the department's authority, if it believes the interests of Utah's ratepayers are being compromised."
"We're looking forward to working with Mr. Mooy, and we hope that he can do a good job," said Leland Hogan, a Tooele County commissioner who is a member of the committee.
In a written statement, White said, "I have great confidence in Sandy and believe that he will diligently represent the best interests" of the groups for which the committee is supposed to be an advocate.