Six Arizonans Vying To Replace Bitter Smith On Coporation Commission

By KJZZ News
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Thursday, December 24, 2015 - 11:03am

She’s not leaving office until Jan. 4, but six Arizonans are already lining up to replace Susan Bitter Smith on the Arizona Corporation Commission.

Records obtained by Capitol Media Services show five would-be utility regulators have written to Gov. Doug Ducey and top aides asking for the job. There's a current mayor, a former mayor, a former legislator, a lobbyist and one man from Lakeside who says his lack of knowledge of anyone in the utility industry makes him the ideal pick. There's also former state Senator Al Melvin who was already running for one of the three available seats on the commission next year.

But governor's office spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said that's not a consideration for his boss. "I think he's really focused on finding the best person and not on the politics of it,'' Scarpinato said of the governor.

The commission has been beset by controversies, not just with the conflict-of-interest allegations that resulted in Bitter Smith's resignation, but also questions about whether Arizona Public Service (APS) funneled money into the 2014 campaign of two successful Republican candidates. Scarpinato said Ducey is taking that into account.

"For him, having someone of the utmost integrity who can be trusted by the public and that will be responsible in how they conduct themselves in decisions they make, those are the things that are really at the top of his list when looking at who to appoint to this position," he said.

An appointment could be made within days.