Sunday, September 13, 2015

Corporation Commission chair has paid ads as a lobbyist for "cable television" and "telecommunications"

The ads, running concurrently with her term as ACC commissioner, are taken as another piece of evidence of conflict of interest. KJZZ reports. (The full article contains photos of the ads.)

Another piece of evidence has surfaced that calls into question an Arizona top regulator and her ties to the utilities she regulates.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Susan Bitter Smith has denied she lobbies for the telecommunications industry, but ads published in her name — while she was in office — indicate otherwise.

Every year the Arizona Capitol Times publishes its "Book of Lobbyists & Government Liaisons" that lists a variety of state lobbyists and their specialties. In the 2013, 2014 and 2015 editions, reviewed by KJZZ, paid advertisements for Bitter Smith describe her as lobbying on behalf of "cable television" and "telecommunications."

Attorney Thomas Ryan sees the ads as supporting his complaint to the AZ Attorney General that Bitter Smith's membership on the Commission is not legal. The Daily Star/tucson.com has that story.

A lawyer seeking the ouster of Susan Bitter Smith from the Arizona Corporation Commission says an ad she runs seeking clients for her private firm bolsters his claim that she is holding office illegally.

Thomas Ryan points to an advertisement Bitter Smith put in January into the annual Book of Lobbyists published by the Arizona Capitol Times. There, Bitter Smith — in her position of executive director of the Southwest Cable Communications Association — cited her areas of expertise as local government, cable television, telecommunications and wireless telephone.

The ad says Bitter Smith and her organization lobby on behalf of both cable television and telecommunications.

Ryan said that provides further evidence to support his complaint to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office that Bitter Smith, as a regulator of state utilities including phone companies, has a conflict of interest. He amended his complaint late Friday to include the new information.

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