Republicans Campaigns Receive Large Campaign Donations From APS

By Claire Caulfield
and Howard Fischer
Published: Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 1:22pm
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Arizona's largest electric utility and its top executives are funneling money into Republican campaigns.

Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, parent company of Arizona Public Service, has given $100,000 of corporate money to the Republican Governors Association and $50,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Additionally, it has donated $10,200 to the Ducey for Governor campaign through its political action committee.

CEO Don Brandt gave $5,100 to the same political action committee and an identical amount to the separate Ducey Victory Fund.

Brandt's wife, Ginger, has put another $5,100 into the Ducey for Governor fund.

James Hatfield, the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer, also has put a total of $5,000 into the two funds. David Falck, another executive vice president and general counsel, has donated a combined $5,000 as well.

And Robert Aiken, another vice president, put in $1,000 to help the governor get re-elected.

Don and Ginger Brandt have also donated $5,400 to former state Sen. Debbie Lesko win her bid for Congress.

In the most recent 2016 election, Pinnacle West donated $4.2 million to Republican candidates running for the utility regulatory commission. Last year the commission voted 4-1 to allow APS to collect an additional $7 million a month from customers. Critics, including Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Burns, say these two moves are connected. Burns has filed a lawsuit asking that related groups who donated to the utility regulatory commission campaigns disclose if they received funds from Pinnacle West.

The $150,000 Pinnacle West donated to national Republican organizations this campaign season is not an anomaly and there’s a history of these organizations mobilizing in Arizona.

In 2014, the Republican Governors Association spent nearly $5 million on campaign commercials against Ducey rival Democrat Fred DuVal. This was the single-largest source of funding for Ducey’s campaign.

That same election cycle the Republican Attorney Generals Association spent more than $3 million on commercials attacking Democrat Felicia Rotellini, helping to elect Republican Mark Brnovich.

The company's written policy spells out that that, in general, it may support candidates and organizations that "share an interest in public policy that furthers our business objectives and promotes our mission of creating a sustainable energy future for Arizona.''

"The company's contribution decisions are based on what is in the best interests of Pinnacle West and not based on the personal preferences of our executives,'' the policy reads.

In a written statement, company spokeswoman Jenna Rowell said that all contributions are funded by Pinnacle West shareholders and not APS customers.