Tuesday, October 13, 2015

STUMPgate UPdate: Stump shocked, just shocked, at Al Melvin's accusations

Laurie Roberts at azcentral.com reports.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump is taking former state Sen. Al Melvin to task for a recent e-mail Melvin sent out, seeking seed money to launch his 2016 campaign for a commission seat.

Stump has pronounced himself "shocked and disappointed" by what his fellow Republican said about the commission in his fundraising e-mail.

So what abomination did Melvin commit?

Well, here’s what he wrote:

"The Corporation Commission finds itself the object of a lot of negative stories these days. I hope you agree that it is important to elect Commissioners of the highest standards who will perform their role with the utmost integrity. I have a lifetime record of maintaining the highest standards of personal conduct as an Eagle Scout, 30 years as a commissioned US naval officer and as an Arizona State Senator."

Now I am no fan of Al Melvin. (Isn't he the guy who wants a uranium dump for AZ?) But the implication that the ACC commissioners are not performing with the "utmost integrity" is spot on.

Roberts has a succinct and complete bill of particulars.

Certainly, Stump has a right to be a tad ticked off with Checks and Balances. For most of this year, the Washington, D.C., based group has been after Stump’s text messages – the ones he sent during last year’s campaign to an APS executive, to a dark-money group believed to have been funded by APS and to Doug Little and Tom Forese, the commission candidates elected with $3.2 million of dark-money help. The ones that Stump deleted right before he threw away his commission-supplied phone. The ones the commission said it couldn’t possibly retrieve. (Even if Stump wasn't involved in the campaign -- and I doubt that he was -- this utility regulator seems awfully chummy with a certain utility that he regulates.)

So does that mean eyebrows shouldn’t be raised skyward about the likely prospect that Commissioners Little and Forese owe their seats to the utility they now regulate? No less than two former commissioners -- one Republican and one Democrat -- have filed a complaint, expressing their concern.

Or that we shouldn’t question how Susan Bitter Smith can both be a telecommunications lobbyist and advocate for Cox Communications while sitting on the commission that regulates Cox and the rest of the telecommunications industry? A complaint is now before the Attorney General's Office, courtesy of attorney Tom Ryan.

Or that we shouldn’t wonder how Bob Burns could, as a candidate, be a member of a telecommunications trade group when the law says that’s a conflict of interest? A citizen filed a complaint after Arizona Republic reporter Ryan Randazzo wrote about it.

Or that we shouldn’t be asking ourselves what then-Commissioner Gary Pierce was talking about with APS CEO Don Brandt (and before him, his predecessor) during their private dinner meetings – some of which occurred while APS was asking for a rate hike? This complaint came from a commissioner staffer -- one who used to work for Pierce.

I'm shocked and disappointed, too, Mr. Stump. But not by anything Al Melvin has done.

And add to all that the refusal of three commissioners to recuse themselves from voting on APS rate increase requests. Guess which three.

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