Utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission asked Tuesday for a legal opinion from their staff about dark-money political contributions that utilities could be making toward the campaigns of candidates who, if elected, will set their rates. Susan Bitter Smith and Bob Burns are trying to encourage utilities and other entities such as rooftop-solar groups from funding independent political groups that advertise for and against candidates for the commission. But they said they need more information on whether they can force utilities to disclose such spending.
Former commissioners and various media outlets have suggested the regulators can force utilities to disclose such spending, but the regulators want the opinion from their own staff. “There is no definitive legal opinion from the commission,” Bitter Smith said. “There is uncertainty regarding the role of the commission.”
Three of the sitting commissioners, Bitter Smith, Burns and Bob Stump, were elected in 2012 with the help of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry with money from Arizona Public Service Co. and Southwest Gas Corp., both of which are regulated by the commissioners.
Full Article: Arizona utility regulators seek legal advice on dark money.