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PHOENIX (AP) — Republican candidates Tom Forese and Doug Little have won the two spots on the powerful Arizona Corporation Commission.
Outside groups that want Doug Ducey as Arizona's next governor have spent enough to give every man, woman and child in the state a dollar — and still have $1 million left over. That doesn't count the $2.2 million that Ducey himself has spent in the general election, on top of the $5 million he expended just getting to be the Republican nominee in the first place.
PHOENIX -- Outside groups that want Doug Ducey as Arizona's next governor have spent enough to give every man, woman and child in the state a dollar -- and still have $1 million left over.
From left, facing camera, Arizona Corporation Commission candidates Jim Holway, Doug Little, Sandra Kennedy and Tom Forese face off in a televised debate last month with host Ted Simons (back to camera).
Two Republicans and a pair of Democrats are seeking seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission in Tuesday’s election.
The Daily News-Sun asked them to comment on the top issues facing the ACC.
Name: Sandra Kennedy
• There is no longer a consumer advocate on the commission.
• I want to restore an emphasis on creating solar energy jobs.
Name: Doug Little
Occupation: Former computer software industry expert
• The aging water infrastructure in many communities.
• The negative impact on the economy associated with potentially significant increases in the cost of energy associated with the implementation of proposed EPA mandates.
I am committed to be the champion of the ratepayer and work to ensure that all Arizonans have access to clean reliable energy and water at the lowest possible price. We will achieve this with a balanced energy portfolio that leverages all of the different types of energy generation in the most cost-effective fashion.
Name: Jim Holway
Occupation: Land use and water resources planner
• We must ensure Arizona will have reliable and affordable water and power in an era of increasing costs, ongoing droughts and greater reliance on intermittent renewable supplies, changing technology and more stringent environmental controls.
Specific actions include: utility resource plans that address Arizona’s future uncertainty and changing needs; support for solar energy innovation, production and jobs in Arizona while also utilizing our coal, nuclear and natural gas resources; and assisting investments in conservation and efficiency.
• The current debate about solar energy in general and the new solar (net metering) tax on residential customers in particular. The ACC should commission an objective, long-term and comprehensive economic study looking at the costs and benefits of not only solar and other renewable supplies, but for other energy supplies as well.
Name: Tom Forese
Occupation: Current state legislator, owner of the Hive.
• We have nine different departments setting the price for utilities and we need to have balance to keep rates low as possible.
• I’m looking to keep things safe and fair but keep costs as minimal as possible. I have a voting record against unneccesary regulations and tax increases. My commitment is to find the balance. My background is technology and I think we’ll see amazing things for solar. We don’t want to harm the solar industry or the businesses. There’s balance in both areas.
PHOENIX -- The parent company of the state's largest electric utility is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars through a third party to ensure that Republican Mark Brnovich becomes the next state attorney general.
Records obtained by Capitol Media Services show that Pinnacle West Capital Corp. has given $425,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association. That amounts to more than one dollar of every six of the $2.5 million RAGA has amassed so far in Arizona for attack ads on Democrat Felecia Rotellini.
Pinnacle West spokesman Alan Bunnell refused to explain why the corporation is spending that kind of money on the race for who becomes the state's top law enforcement official.
Instead, he said that Pinnacle West and Arizona Public Service "support causes of either party that are pro-business.'' And Bunnell said the company acts to ensure there is "safe, reliable and affordable energy.''
But it also comes as APS and other utilities are fighting the Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency for what they see as unnecessary and onerous pollution regulations for coal-fired power plants that will require larger reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from Arizona facilities than other states. And Brnovich has said that, if elected, he will join with other states "in challenging the legality of these federal regulations if they are not promptly withdrawn or significantly revised to reflect the concerns of stakeholders.''
Brnovich is not about to reject or disavow the spending by the utility on his behalf.
Spokesman Matthew Benson said the Republican has built "a strong coalition of support'' and that "he's happy to have everyone on board.''
Benson sidestepped a question of whether Brnovich thinks it is appropriate to have a regulated utility try to influence who is elected the next chief law enforcement officer of the state.
"You'd have to ask Pinnacle West about the donation decisions they have,'' he said. But Benson, in language echoing what came from Bunnell, said it's likely the company sees it as in its interest.
"If Pinnacle West has chosen to weigh in on his behalf in this race, it may be because the utility views him as the more credible candidate when it comes to pushing back against the Obama administration and fighting overregulation that threatens Arizona's ability to produce the clean, cost-effective energy Arizona families and businesses need,'' Benson said.
But Rotellini said neither the explanation from Bunnell nor Benson makes sense.
She pointed out she actually had gone on record in August as opposing the new EPA rules, even testifying before a legislative committee, before Brnovich sent his own letter threatening to sue the federal agency. Rotellini said she has no answers about why APS and its parent have opted to back her foe. But that did not stop her from blasting the company for its decision.
"It's beyond disconcerting to see a regulated corporation, the state's largest utility, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to a dark money group to fund attack ads full of lies,'' she charged.
Strictly speaking, though, RAGA is not a "dark money'' group. Unlike others involved in trying to influence this year's election, it does provide a list of donors.
But it's not that simple. RAGA does take cash from other groups that do not make such disclosures.
That includes the American Future Fund which gave it $650,000 earlier this year, meaning that the ultimate source of much of RAGA's funding remains secret.
Other reports, however, show that American Future Foundation, in turn, received much of its funding, at least in the 2012 election cycle, from Center to Protect Patient Rights, a group founded by Sean Noble which has now morphed into American Encore. And Noble, who works for Brnovich, has previously been a consultant for APS.
Benson did not dispute whether Rotellini was first in blasting the EPA. But he said the timing apparently is irrelevant to APS.
"The question is which of these two candidates has credibility that they will actually fight back against the Obama administration,'' he said. "Talk is cheap.''
While the large contribution to help Brnovich could be found, albeit not from disclosure required by Arizona law, this may not be the first foray by APS into electing candidates it believes will be better for its business interests.
During the Republican primary, Vernon Parker and Lucy Mason charged that APS was behind the hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into commercials against them by Save Our Future Now. The same organization, which refuses to disclose its donors, also spent more than $425,000 on behalf of favored candidates Doug Little and Tom Forese who have advanced to the primary.
And Save Our Future Now already has reported spending $1.3 million in commercials attacking Democrat Sandra Kennedy.
Bunnell on Tuesday again refused to confirm or deny the involvement of either APS or its parent in the Corporation Commission race. Instead, he repeated his statement about the interest in supporting candidates that the company believes will support its energy policies.
The parent company of the state's largest electric utility is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars through a third party to ensure that Republican Mark Brnovich becomes the next state attorney general.
As a member of the Gilbert Town Council, I join with other current and former elected officials who fully endorse Ron Bellus for the Gilbert School Board. We understand the importance of building relationships when working with one another in the governing process. Those relationships aren’t created overnight; it takes time to build trust and mutual respect.
The two Republican candidates running for Arizona Corporation Commission escaped further inquiry into their campaign finances Thursday by each agreeing to pay $1,000 fines.
PHOENIX -- The two Republican candidates running for Arizona Corporation Commission escaped further inquiry into their campaign finances Thursday by each agreeing to pay $1,000 fines.
Tom Forese and Doug Little essentially admitted that they committed to spending money on their joint campaign before they actually had the cash. That is a violation of election laws.
They also acknowledged that they did not properly report money they spent on things like campaign signs and petition circulators.
The deal was approved by a 3-1 vote by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission after Tom Collins, the panel's executive director, recommended it to them. He called it an "appropriate resolution'' of the issue.
Not everyone was pleased.
The Rev. Jarett Maupin, who filed complaints, said there was a general "slickness'' to the way the pair campaigned in the Republican primary were they beat out Lucy Mason and Vernon Parker. And Maupin said the preliminary inquiry done by Collins and his staff did not explore every aspect of that race.
This deal, he said, avoids the commission conducting a full-blown probe.
"I would hate to think the commission, with all the unanswered questions, would sell its integrity for $2,000,'' Maupin said. He said that if the commission levied the maximum possible penalties against the pair it would come close to $60,000.
Collins, however, said he found no evidence that either candidate, running with public dollars, had accepted outside cash or spent more than their allocations.
Only Commissioner Steve Titla voted against the settlement, calling the penalty "too low.''
The pair face off in the general election against Democrats Sandra Kennedy and Jim Holway.
PHOENIX -- The head of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission said Wednesday there's enough evidence to conclude two Republican candidates for Arizona Corporation Commission violated state campaign-finance laws.
Tom Collins, the commission's executive director, concluded Rep. Tom Forese failed to report in a timely fashion the $6,381 he paid to Americopy, subcontracting with Suzanne Dreher, to gather the signatures he needed to qualify for the ballot. And he said businessman Doug Little did not disclose as required another $4,155 he paid Dreher for his own signatures.
Collins also said both Forese and Little, running as a team, did not report as required that they had committed to pay Americopy for campaign signs and installation.
But the problems go deeper than that.
Collins said both candidates, running with public funds, were making deals to spend money they did not yet have, including more than $5,500 for those signs.
What Collins is recommending that the full commission, set to meet Thursday vote to authorize a full-blown investigation. That could result in fines equal to 10 times the amount of the violations.
Lee Miller, who is representing both candidates, said they will fight any effort to sanction them. He said that Collins is misinterpreting the law.
In essence, much of the legal question comes down to when money is actually "spent.''
Collins said commission rules prohibit publicly funded candidates from incurring debt or spending money beyond what they have on hand. And he said a contract, promise or agreement to make an expenditure resulting in someone extending credit to the candidate is just the same as paying the amount up front with cash.
In the case of the signs, Collins said the pair spent more than $19,000 which was not reported on campaign finance reports. Then there is that problem of their commitment to spend more than $5,500 more than they actually had on the date they incurred the debt.
The petition signatures present a slightly different problem.
Little and Forese said they gathered petitions through volunteers, online petitions and paid circulators. In that last case, they agreed to pay $1 to $1.50 per signature.
But while they were making payments as the signatures were coming in, Collins said they did not timely disclose the money going out.
Corporation Commission candidates Doug Little, Jim Holway, Sandra Kennedy and Tom Forese face off Monday night in a televised debate with host Ted Simons. [Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services]
In a sometimes testy exchange, candidates Arizona Corporation Commission traded barbs Monday night on whether someone should force the state's largest electric utility to say whether it's putting money into the race and how much.
From left, facing camera, Arizona Corporation Commission candidates Jim Holway, Doug Little, Sandra Kennedy and Tom Forese face off Monday night in a televised debate with host Ted Simons (back to camera). (Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer)
Candidates for governor and their allies have so far spent close to $16 million in the race to come out on top this coming Tuesday in the Republican primary. And that's what we know about.
The state's elections director says an organization that has so far put nearly $1.7 million into this year's primary election likely is violating campaign finance laws.
The race for who could be a heartbeat away from governor is being financed largely by a “dark money” group that will not disclose its donors.
Two Republicans hoping to sit on the Arizona Corporation Commission lashed out Wednesday at a decision by the state Department of Revenue to impose property taxes on leased solar panels.
Republican candidates for Arizona Corporation Commission Lucy Mason and Tom Forese at Wednesday debate. [Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services]
Arizona lawmakers are making another effort to keep new drivers from chatting on their phones and texting.
State lawmakers voted Thursday to buckle under to federal rules to protect workers from falls – but only if they're forced to do so.
The state House voted unanimously Tuesday to encourage more high schoolers to take computer science courses.
Arizona's bid to become a test site for unmanned drones was rejected Monday as federal officials picked six other proposals.