- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - The U.S. Senate has confirmed two nominees to serve on the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public utility.

Media report the Senate held a roll call vote on the nominations of Democrats Ron Walter and Virginia Lodge after some Republicans objected their appointment to the board. The measure passed Tuesday night 86-12.

TVA serves 9 million people in parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

The vote came after Walter and Lodge signed a pledge to recuse themselves from any matters that come before the board involving Democratic real estate developer Franklin Haney, who is pushing a financial plan for the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant.

“In order to avoid any appearance of a lack of impartiality, I will not participate personally and substantially in any particular matter in which Mr. Haney or any person on his behalf is a party or represents a party, or in which Mr. Haney, or his family, would have a direct or indirect financial interest,” the nominees wrote in separate but similar letters.

Walter is the general manager of Memphis CBS affiliate WREG-TV and Lodge is a Nashville business consultant.

Both Tennessee senators voted for the measure but vowed to have more congressional oversight of the board.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Chattanooga said the nominees’ decision to recuse themselves “helps ensure that there is no appearance of a lack of impartiality.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander said his vote didn’t change his feelings about the nomination process.

“I have expressed before my displeasure with this White House’s process for nominating TVA board members,” Alexander said in a statement. “It has regularly ignored the Senate’s responsibility to advise and consent on presidential nominations, one of the Constitution’s most important checks on executive power. Next year, when there is a Republican Senate majority, this will change.”

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