Utility-Backed Political Group To Spend On Arizona Corporation Commission Race

By Will Stone
Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 11:36am
Updated: Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - 12:18pm
(Photo by Howard Fischer - Capitol Media Services)
Commissioner Bob Burns campaigned on his efforts to reveal the source of dark money spending in 2014. Now he has accused another commissioner of possible "misconduct."

Arizona's largest utility is weighing into this year’s close race for the Arizona Corporation Commission.

An independent expenditure committee called the Arizona Coalition for Reliable Electricity recently formed and plans to spend $1 million in the final run up to the election to support the three Republicans in the race: Andy Tobin, Bob Burns and Boyd Dunn.

The source of the money is Arizona Public Service's parent company, Pinnacle West.

Matt Benson, spokesperson for the committee, said the utility believes the three Republicans will be fair when making decisions on controversial matters like rooftop solar policy.

“Unfortunately, the two Democratic candidates have made it clear in this campaign with their misleading statements and extreme rhetoric that they can’t be impartial,” Benson said.

Democrats Bill Mundell and Tom Chabin have been highly critical of APS, in particular the alleged dark money spending in the 2014 election cycle to support now commissioners Doug Little and Tom Forese.

In response to the spending, Mundell released a statement saying the utility's CEO Don Brandt "has created a culture of corruption at APS and the Corporation Commission."

This isn’t the first outside spending in the race for three seats on the public utilities commission. The solar industry has spent heavily to support Chabin, Mundell and Burns.

Pinnacle West also released a statement defending its involvement in the election and accusing national solar leasing company Solar City of protecting "its narrow interests" and breaking "its written promise to stay out of the ACC elections."