Group seeking to have $16 billion refund case heard by U.S. Supreme Court

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OKLAHOMA CITY – After losing in a decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, a group of Oklahomans is taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A group of prominent Oklahomans had been seeking a $16 billion refund for customers from AT&T.  Officials say a bribed vote in the late 1980s resulted in commissioners letting Southwestern Bell reinvest excess revenue into its infrastructure rather than returning it to customers.

One of the commissioners and a Southwestern Bell attorney ended up going to prison for bribery over that vote.

In September, the Corporation Commission voted 2-1 to dismiss the application for a refund.

Despite the decision, Oklahomans Against Bribery said it would continue to fight and take the case to the Supreme Court.

“We’re asking them to review whether the commission would have jurisdiction to take this matter up and whether it should be ordered to take the matter up,” said Russell Walker, the attorney representing Oklahomans Against Bribery.

"Over the past 25 years this case has been rejected at least six times by either the Supreme Court or the Corporation Commission, including a vote to dismiss by Commissioner Anthony himself in 2003. Today’s order should finally bring it to an end. Despite the applicants' continued misstatement of the facts, Southwestern Bell never kept any excess revenues. As required by the Commission over 25 years ago, we invested all of it – about $31 million over three years – in our Oklahoma network, to the benefit of Oklahoma citizens. Since then, we have continued to invest in our network. In fact, we invested nearly $825 million in Oklahoma wireless and wired networks from 2013-2015,” a statement from an AT&T spokesman read.

Last month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court  upheld the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's decision in an 8-1 vote.

Now, Oklahomans Against Bribery are seeking to have their case heard by the U. S. Supreme Court.

“We took on this fight when the Attorney General stopped representing Oklahoma ratepayers and started defending AT&T,” said bribery refund applicant and Nichols Hills Mayor Sody Clements. “We hoped the Corporation Commission and the Oklahoma Supreme Court would finally do the right thing – declare once and for all that bribed votes don’t count in this state, and give the billions stolen by AT&T back to the ratepayers. Unfortunately everyone has passed the buck and claimed it’s someone else’s problem to fix. We believe the buck will stop at the United States Supreme Court.”

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