Price gouging hearings continue in Frankfort

Posted by Mike Dever - email

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Marathon Oil is under scrutiny again as a hearing continues in Frankfort today looking into whether or not the company is guilty of price gouging after it raised prices following April's flooding.

Attorney General Jack Conway's office filed a lawsuit against the company last week. During a hearing on Monday, Conway testified that Marathon unjustly raised prices during Kentucky's state of emergency in the wake of April's storms.

Conway says Marathon, which supplies gasoline to many Kentucky stations, has a monopoly on the supply in Louisville.

Conway claims Marathon did raise prices by nearly 30 cents a gallon in some cases. Marathon and its Speedway division are denying that, and have successfully blocked a restraining order request from the state that would have changed the price at the pump immediately.

Monday's hearing took only about 30 minutes, and Marathon's legal team claimed Conway's suit was nothing more than an attempt to "create political theater."

Conway objected to that accusation and later had this to say:"If doing my job as attorney general and standing up for the consumers when they may be paying too much at the pump is political, call me that every day of the week and twice on Sunday. They're trying to make this argument that because this was filed a few days before the Primary that this is somehow political, but I'm unopposed in the primary."

In late April, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency in Kentucky due to widespread floods, and that means Kentucky's price gouging law is in effect.

During Thursday's proceedings, Conway called Peter Ashton to testify on behalf of the prosecution. Peter Ashton, a consultant and economist, testified that Marathon did indeed raise prices by as much as 30 percent after Beshear declared the state of emergency.

Ashton also testified that Marathon received lots of prices because of the elevated prices.

Marathon attorneys questioned Ashton about the prices of the pump after the data he had in front of him was dated May 11. Ashton acknowledged that prices did go down after May 11. When asked if there was a correlation between high gas prices and flooding, Ashton testified that he observed the prices, but had not analyzed the exact connection between higher prices and flooding.

The prosecution had at least another two witnesses to call.

We'll have a live report coming up on WAVE 3 News.

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