in Houston, Texas
CPS Energy awards CEO Doyle Beneby a $410k bonus equal to his annual salary
Tuesday, Aug 28, 2012, 04:07PM CST
By Curt Olson
money

CPS Energy board members must have forgotten about the bar tabs, expensive parties, lavish hotel rooms and first-class flights when they effectively doubled the compensation of public utility chief Doyle Beneby this week.

CPS trustees in San Antonio gave their chief executive officer a $410,000 bonus Monday, the San Antonio Express-News reports. He will receive $205,000 now, with the other half payable at the end of his contract a year from now.

Board Chairman Derrick Howard said Beneby improved CPS Energy’s standing with customers and brought in new energy partners, with nearly $1 billion that will be added to the economy, the Express-News reports.

However, WOAI TV reporter Brian Collister earlier this year uncovered shocking spending subsidized by CPS ratepayers. Digging into public records, Collister found a gold mine of public-employee excess.

His first report in February blew the lid off a $43,000 party for 25-year veterans of CPS Energy and a $7,000 going-away party for a CPS board member. That report forced Beneby to apologize and dip into his pocket to refund $5,000 to CPS.

Two years ago, Beneby pledged that CPS would be more transparent.

For the purpose of transparency, here’s a list of some of what Collister uncovered at CPS Energy for trustee Steve Hennigan’s going away party at Bohanan’s restaurant in February 2011:

  • $ 991 for snapper
  • $ 743 for ribeye steaks
  • $ 2,000 bar tab 
  • $ 160 for valet parking

A retirement party for a CPS Energy vice president that included five other CPS executives and their wives at Bistro Vatel in Olmos Park included steak and duck and $540 for four bottles of wine — and a final tab of $1,659.

An affair in June 2011, held annually for those who have worked at CPS 25 years, generated a tab for food, beer and wine of $43,593. The total tab over four years was $162,000.

The extravagance didn’t stop in San Antonio. Beneby takes it on the road, too. Collister reported in April that Beneby had one-night stays in hotels in Austin, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. that ranged between $454 to $558.

Collister also found first-class flights, many for more than $1,000.

Collister’s investigation discovered the hiring of a Fleming’s steak house waitress — yes, she served at several of the parties — for $60,000 a year to prepare Beneby for meetings and schedule speaking engagements. With multiple emails from sources, Collister learned CPS never posted the new position.

The spending on meals and the assistant makes the $5,000 CPS Energy gave to the Texas Republican Party seem downright cheap. After WOAI reported on the donation, the party refunded it.

***
Contact Curt Olson at curt@texaswatchdog.org or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

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Illustration of money by flickr user Tax Credits, used via a Creative Commons license.

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