Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Conservative watchdog group files complaint against Corporation Commissioner Bitter Smith

This must be getting bitter, not better, for Bitter Smith. Even before yesterday she was under pressure to resign for reasons of conflict of interest given her ongoing lobbying associations. Now a conservative group has weighed in.

Controversy at the state office that regulates utilities continued to snowball Tuesday with new complaints filed seeking to remove Susan Bitter Smith, the top official at the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The conservative Public Integrity Alliance sent complaints to the Secretary of State's Office and the Clean Elections Commission seeking the removal of Bitter Smith, the commission's chair.

Butch Cassidy once said "who are these guys?"

Montague, a Mesa Republican, and the Public Integrity Alliance were involved in raising money for Arizona Senate candidate Jerry Lewis in 2012 when he beat Sen. Russell Pearce in a recall election.

He also raised money and sent out fliers opposing embattled Attorney General Tom Horne in his 2014 re-election campaign, which he lost.

"We go after people behaving badly," Montague said.

That, from a conservative group, is truly refreshing.

Bitter Smith has said that because she represents the cable branches of Cox and other companies, there is no conflict with her serving as a regulator. The Corporation Commission only regulates the telecom, or landline, branches of the businesses.

Montague disagrees.

In his letters addressed to Secretary of State Michelle Reagan and Tom Collins, executive director of the Clean Elections Commission, he says Bitter Smith likely is violating the law, and the only remedy for the violation is removal from office.

"One cannot simply separate the telecommunication aspect of either Cox and its subsidiaries or SCCA's membership from the commission's statutory responsibilities," he said. "The commission is directly responsible for regulating the telephone aspect of her clients."

He said her entire term in office is likely void.

Bitter, indeed, for Bitter Smith. Too bad for her, but AZ needs to clean house. Let's start with the ACC.

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