TVA Records Regarding Haney Acquisition of Bellefonte Plant in 2018

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) records from 2018 regarding the acquisition of Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant by Nuclear Development LLC, a company founded by real-estate developer Franklin Haney Sr., who contributed $1 million to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee. The inaugural committee was later investigated by federal prosecutors. 

The Wall Street Journal reported in August 2018 that Haney agreed to pay Michael Cohen, then the president’s personal attorney, $10 million to help get funding for the Bellefonte project. A tentative deal to sell the power plant was scrapped in November 2018, with the TVA saying that Nuclear Development hadn’t secured the proper regulatory approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in order to sell the plant. Haney’s company sued the TVA, and in May 2019, a federal judge ruled that the agreement to sell must remain in place. 

You can view Nuclear Development LLC’s application to the Department of Energy for loan assistance to acquire Bellefonte here, and you can view the 2017–2019 calendars of former TVA CEO Bill Johnson, who met frequently with Haney, here. Detailed notes on the contents of this set of documents are below.

In these records

Feb. 6, 2017: Larry Blust, a lawyer representing Nuclear Development LLC, sent an email to Sherry Quick, TVA’s executive vice president and general counsel, (and copied Haney, Franklin Haney Jr., and TVA official James S. Chardos) with the subject line “Gun range use.”

The attached letter, referring use of a rifle range, affirms that Nuclear Development “plans on using the existing firing range solely for its intended purpose of training security guards.” 

That same day, Blust sent an email to Quirk concerning generator storage, and Quirk looped in TVA official Gary Poole to discuss further. 

Nov. 2, 2017: According to calendars obtained by American Oversight, Haney and Franklin Haney Jr. had a meeting with TVA’s then-CEO Bill Johnson. 

Sept. 11, 2018: Johnson’s calendars also show a meeting with Quirk on the subject of “Bellefonte.” 

April 10, 2017: Areva NP, a nuclear power company now known as Framatome, filed a complaint against the TVA for disclosing sensitive Areva information to Westinghouse Electric Company LLC. 

Aug. 29, 2018: Nuclear Development sent a letter to the TVA requesting an extension to finish the Bellefonte acquisition by May 14, 2019.

Oct. 23, 2018: According to Johnson’s calendars, a meeting occurred on “Haney Strategy,” followed by another “Haney meeting.” 

Nov. 12, 2018: Blust sent an email to TVA attorney Clifford Beach (and copied Haney, Haney Jr., and others) with the subject line “License Transfer Issues.” Blust wrote, “In summary, we think it is in both parties’ interest to extend the closing date by at least 6 months as we requested some time ago and as you were considering.”

The next day, on Nov. 13, Quirk replied to Blust: “Larry, we are with the Board today and tomorrow and will be back in touch on Thursday.” 

Blust responded, “Look forward to talking to you Thursday.” 

Nov. 14, 2018: An employee at the Franklin L. Haney Company emailed Blust to confirm that a wire payment of $144,231 had been made. Blust then forwarded this email to Beach and Quirk. 

Nov. 15, 2018: Quirk and Blust had a phone call

Nov. 16, 2018: An email exchange occurred between Blust and Beach (with Chandler, Quirk, and Jack McCall copied) concerning the “Atomic Energy Act Cite.” (Two weeks later, TVA would scrap the deal, claiming Haney’s company had not obtained the proper regulatory approval required by the Atomic Energy Act.)

Nov. 19, 2018: Quirk and Blust had a phone call.

Nov. 28, 2018: Email sent by Blust to Quirk and Beach said, “Since our phone call on November 8, 2018 when you first raised the issue of whether TVA is obligated to close Nuclear Development’s (ND) acquisition of the Bellefonte site, we have heard varying views as to TVA’s intent.”

Beach replied: “As to the Atomic Energy Act issue that TVA has been raising with increasing concern in recent weeks, we did receive an unequivocal opinion from Pillsbury today opining that [Nuclear Development]’s acquisitions of the site would be unlawful under the Act. The implications of this opinion are fairly obvious. Aside from that, TVA has incurred considerable cost and time to be ready for closing on the 30th with a number of employees at both the plant and corporate level involved in the effort.” (“Pillsbury” is a reference to the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, which these emails suggest TVA received legal advice from in this case).

Nov. 29, 2018: Letter from the TVA to Nuclear Development regarding the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant purchase and sales agreement made in 2016. The letter asserted that if Nuclear Development failed to get approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for construction on the site, the company can not acquire the power plant.  

Nov. 30, 2018: Nuclear Development filed a complaint against the TVA, including a declaration made by Haney and a motion for preliminary injunction filed on the same date. The complaint claims that the TVA mishandled the transaction of the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant. 

Dec. 5, 2018: Letter from counsel representing Nuclear Development to Quirk at the TVA.