Friday, August 28, 2015

An honest politician stays bought

And that old saying would appear to apply to Doug Little, one of the Arizona Corporation Commissioners whose campaign was helped by dark money (thought to come from APS). Here is the scoop from Laurie Roberts at The Republic/

Two Commissioners, Bob Burns and Susan Bitter Smith (neither caught up the Stump/Forese/Little APS scandal). introduced an agenda item.

Earlier this week, an item popped up on the agenda for today’s commission meeting, to discuss and possibly vote on whether regulated utilities ought to have to publicly disclose their dark-money maneuvering.

It was placed on the agenda by Commission Chairwoman Susan Bitter Smith and Commissioner Bob Burns. Both are up for re-election next year. Both have asked APS to stay out of next year’s elections.

Asked? Only asked? This is the 4th branch of AZ government run by only 5 elected officials. And they just ask? Take a deep breath and continue.

[The agenda item reads] "Commission discussion, consideration, and possible vote regarding developing correspondence and/or other communications relating to the campaign contribution practices of public service corporations and other entities that appear before the Commission and opening a docket therefor - Commissioner Burns and Chairman Bitter Smith."

In English, that means they are interested in forcing any regulated utility to publicly disclose whether they are engaged in dark-money campaigns to get their favored candidates onto the commission that regulates them.

This morning, Little pulled the item removed from today’s agenda – something a commissioner can do once on any item, in order to delay consideration of an issue.

That effectively blocks the Commission from investigating APS's involvement with dark money in the last election.
But why go through this process at all? Any Commissioner can order APS to open its books. However:

Neither [Burns nor Bitter Smith] ... has been willing to order APS to open its books so we can see whether the utility was behind last year's multi-million dark-money campaigns that landed APS-friendly Tom Forese and Doug Little on the commission.

So while we await some spine on the Commission, we suffer this:

"Delaying the conversation [about the requested APS rate increase] another year basically is a disservice and not in the public interest," Little said, during last week’s vote.

Certainly, it's not in his interest.

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