Marathon calls KY price gouging suit “political theater”

Published: May. 16, 2011 at 5:33 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) – The price of gas is heating up, not just when we go to fuel up, but now with a suit heard Monday in Frankfort.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway is going after Marathon and its Speedway division for price gouging, after a suit was filed late in the week of May 9.  On Monday, May 16, both sides faced off in the Franklin Circuit Court in Frankfort, which would shape the outcome for all Kentucky consumers.

The hearing itself only lasted about 30 minutes, but it didn't take long for the gloves to come off as Marathon's legal team slammed Attorney General Jack Conway, claiming he's just out to fuel his face time.

"If you can create political theater, which Jack has done," Marathon Attorney Sheryl Snyder said during the court proceedings.

"I'd like to put an objection on the record your honor," Conway responded.

While Marathon declined to elaborate about that accusation, Conway had this to say to WAVE 3 News.

"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," Conway said.

The fallout is over the price of gas back in late April.  That's when Governor Steve Beshear declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth due to widespread flooding.  When that's activated, so is Kentucky's price gouging law.

"You can't gouge on building supplies, or hotel rooms, and you can't gauge on gas prices and we're alleging that they are charging prices not based on their cost, but instead based on their speculation," Conway said.

Conway claims Marathon did just that, to the tune of nearly 30 cents a gallon in some cases.  Marathon and its Speedway division are denying that, and successfully struck down a restraining order request from the state.  That would have changed the price at the pump immediately.

"Our position is that there was no emergency today, in fact, prices began to fall before these motions were filed on Wednesday and Thursday of last week," Snyder said.

Conway says the case was filed so late because of complaints and case research.

Both sides will meet back in Frankfort Thursday morning to continue the hearing.

Watch WAVE 3 News and check back on for continuing coverage.

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