- Associated Press - Friday, May 12, 2017

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Utilities Board is defending its decision to spend thousands of dollars sending five employees to a conference in Portland this week.

A list of attendees to the National Conference of Regulatory Attorneys shows Iowa and two other states sent five employees. The majority sent none, one or two. The four-day conference, which concluded Wednesday, charged $400 per employee, plus airfare, hotel and meal charges.

Board spokesman Don Tormey said late Friday afternoon the conference will help staff be well-informed on numerous regulatory topics, including federal regulations and ethics. He says the board hasn’t sent attorneys there in several years. The money will come from the board’s budget, which is funded through assessments on utilities.

Board Chairwoman Geri Huser was among Iowa’s attendees. She’s already facing criticism over her outside job as a private attorney and decision to spend $464,000 renovating the board’s 6-year-old headquarters.

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