Newly-elected Arizona commissioner prepares to subpoena APS over political spending
- An Arizona regulator is preparing to subpoena Arizona Public Service (APS) and parent company Pinnacle West Capital for records related to the utility's political spending, part of a campaign promise to fight corruption and "stop unjust rate increases."
- Arizona Corporation Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, who won a seat on the ACC in 2018, has ordered the subpoena. She has also invited the four other commissioners to sign, though it was not immediately clear which, if any, would. The subpoena will request a list of "each political contribution made by APS" in the last six years from 2013-2018, according to a Feb. 26 memo.
- Questions of political influence and utility campaign spending have simmered for years in Arizona, with regulators trying to determine if APS and its parent company funded independent groups supporting election campaigns for the commission in 2014 using ratepayer money.
Kennedy campaigned on a pledge to subpoena the APS records, building on an effort that failed several years ago.
In 2016, then-Commissioner Robert Burns issued a subpoena to APS in an effort to learn more about its political spending. But the utility sued to block the demand, and the commission voted 3-1 against his inquiry
But Burns is now chair of the commission and newly-elected Commissioner Justin Olson is on record saying he would support enforcing the subpoena.
APS told Utility Dive it "will review Commissioner Kennedy's letter and may have further comment after we fully assess it."
Kennedy's policy advisor, Stephen Brittle, told Utility Dive the commissioner was having the subpoena prepared on Wednesday and expects "it will be served later today or tomorrow."
Brittle also said Kennedy can subpoena APS without support from other commissioners. "It's helpful to have more than one commissioner sign on, but our reading of the statute would be that any one commissioner can do that."
The 2016 subpoena was issued as part of a rate case, Brittle said. In this instance, Kennedy opened a separate docket specifically for the subpoena.
The subpoena will focus on spending on political races, lobbying, advertising and contributions to 501c3 and 501c4 organizations, for the calendar years 2013 through 2018, according to a statement from Kennedy's office.
Commissioner Kennedy "supports full transparency and looks forward to providing the subpoena results to the public," her statement said.
- Arizona Corporation Commission Commissioner Sandra D. Kennedy Prepares Subpoena to APS/Pinnacle West
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