Indeed, Maine and New Hampshire regulators more or less admit that their requirements don't cover this possibility. "It's all in terms of expenditures," says Andrew Hagler of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, adding that the federal rules are the only way to will prevent FairPoint from subverting taxpayer money to meet its prior corporate obligations.
Leave it to Vermont to set the bar. The state that acted first on the e-mailed tip that FairPoint might have faked its test results is taking the hardest line about double-dipping. The money FairPoint promised to Vermont is "a separate, standalone obligation to the state," says Stephen Wark of the Vermont Department of Public Service. He said he would be "surprised" if the feds allowed it, adding that "generally, the rule is you cannot supplant" money already committed, and replace it with federal dollars. "That is what we're going to hold them to," Wark says.
Good thing, too, because if it's up to the feds, they're not talking. Mark Tolbert, spokesman for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is overseeing the broadband stimulus money, referred the Phoenix to "eligibility and matching" documentation that didn't lay out whether double-dipping in this way would be allowed.
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