Arizona regulator can't demand campaign finance records, APS says
- According to Capitol Media Services, lawyers representing Arizona Public Service have filed documents with the Maricopa County Superior Court that argue state regulators may not subpoena campaign finance records from the utility — only the state's legislature can.
- Commissioner Robert Burns has requested financial records detailing political spending dating back to 2011 from parent company Pinnacle West, but the utility has so far refused.
- While the fight has been going on for some time, Burns also asked the state's Supreme Court last month to overturn the commission's recent approval of new rates for APS.
Central to this dispute is $3.2 million in funding to independent groups supporting the election bids of two regulators,Tom Forese and Doug Little, which Burns said came from APS. The utility has neither confirmed or denied these allegations. But the Arizona Daily Star points out that it could have ramifications beyond the state's largest electric utility.
The newspaper notes that the court case could impact how deep an individual elected commissioner may dig into a regulated utility's books. And while it appears a long shot, Burns has asked the Arizona Supreme Court to overturn the utility's recent rate case. There is no legal precedent for a decision like that, however.
In August, the commission voted 4-1 to increase APS rates and approve a settlement with solar advocates that establishes a new compensation scheme and allows customers to lock in their rate for years. The commission's decision means a typical residential customer will see bills rise 4.5% or about $6/month.
Burns, however, argues the decision is invalid because he was unable to determine if utility funding of political campaigns had any influence over the decision. The other four ACC members have not supported his efforts.
- Capitol Media Services Commissioner Bob Burns can't force political funding disclosure, utility argues
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