Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, November 1, 2012

GOP/ALEC Corp Comm Candidates Coordinate with Outside Committee?

As you may remember, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has been in the news quite a bit over the last month for his "extra-legal" hijinx. Well, that's what wants us to believe anyway, that nothing he has done is illegal. One of the big claims is that Horne's 2010 election campaign coordinated with an Independent Expenditure committee to raise obscene amounts of money to buy television ads. He "won" the election by a 52 to 48 percent margin. Given his propensity to prevaricate, it's not unreasonable to speculate that if not for extra spending by the IE committee, we would have Felicia Rotellini as AG now.

Jump ahead to November 2012. One of the most important races of this year's general election is for three seats on the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission. The Solar Team, comprised of Democratic candidates Marcia Busching, Sandra Kennedy and Paul Newman are solid advocates for the interests of Arizona citizens and utility ratepayers.

Their opponents are Stump (Trash Burner Bob), B.S. and Burns (utility lobbyist Susan Bitter Smith and ALEC Legacy member Bob Burns)
image courtesy Bob Sloan
Imagine my joy when, in yesterday's mail, I received a mailer from the trio some have affectionately dubbed the Trash Team. Well, let me explain.

The mailer says it was paid for with major funding by Exelon Corporation, among others. But Exelon is the most conspicuously dubious of the funders.

But really, WHOSE priorities are we looking at here? Do we expect Exelon to simply say, because we love you, we want you to be happy and successful in office and expect nothing in return?

FAT CHANCE. So, WHAT does Exelon want?

First we have to understand what Exelon IS.

A public relations document apparently posted last weekend says:
Exelon Generation's three nuclear power stations in Pennsylvania are well prepared for Hurricane Sandy as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard. (emphasis mine)

Operators at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station , Limerick Generating Station and Three Mile Island completed a host of pre-storm inspections this weekend and remain fully staffed to monitor and respond to changing conditions.
The same puff piece says this about Exelon:
Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC) is the nation's leading competitive energy provider, with approximately $33 billion in annual revenues...  Exelon has operations and business activities in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Exelon is the largest competitive U.S. power generator...
Competitive energy provider is CODE for Big Money wanting to gobble up all of the UNREGULATED electricity generating assets (Investor Owned Utility companies and their generating facilities) to build UNREGULATED MONOPOLIES.

Think REincarnation of ENRON. Of course, Exelon will tell you they will not be quite as reckless as ENRON. And with ALEC Legacy member Bob Burns at the helm of the Arizona Corporation Commission, they will get their way until Exelon becomes too big to fail.

By the way, WHAT does any of this have to do with Tom Horne?

Well, the mailer I mention (above, with part of it shown) QUOTES Burns, B.S. and Stump without any attribution. In other words, it LOOKS LIKE Burns, B.S. and Stump coordinated with the organization that designed, printed and mailed out the advertisement.

Coordination between Independent Expenditure committees (which is what The Taxpayers' Voice Fund and the other groups ARE) is ILLEGAL. The three GOP candidates have already been busted for violating Clean Elections rules during the 2012 campaign. 

The language in the mailer doesn't prove coordination took place, but it certainly suggests direct conversations.

Burns is quoted, "We need a balanced energy portfolio;" 

B.S. said, "Low energy prices are good for families and good for Arizona;" 

And Trash Burner Bob said, "We must have affordable and reliable utilities, jobs depend on it"

None of those quotes distinguishes them from the Solar Team candidates in any meaningful way, other than to imply that these three are the only ones who can deliver on those issues. But the banner says these three have "the right priorities." That can ONLY be rightly understood as meaning the priorities that the funding organizations want.

All of the text and the images on the ad, outside of the required disclosure of who paid for it, are designed solely and exclusively as SUBTERFUGE

The images, besides the smiling faces of people who very obviously have the interests of Big Business and ALEC first and foremost, on the mailer include those of solar and wind powered electricity generating devices. We've already exposed those three as being brazenly disingenuous with regard to their claims to be in favor of renewable energy resource development. (see


Anyway, we CAN and DO know that Exelon is extremely interested in expanding its share of the "competitive energy" market. They have extensive holdings in nuclear generating facilities.

We ALSO know that one of the ways they are seeking competitive advantage (what capitalist organization does NOT seek competitive advantage?) is to BUY ALEC members' favor. Nonprofit news provider ProPublica's database on corporate political giving shows Exelon donations during the 2002 through 2010 election cycles totaling more than $144K for 10 candidates (or incumbents not up for re-election) from Illinois and Texas, all of whom apparently either won or were already in office at the time. 

What did Exelon expect to receive for its investment?

We do not know specifically what Exelon expects from Burns, B.S. and Stump. But we do know they are very interested in electric generation industry deregulation and expanding availability of nuclear generating facilities and buying up other Investor Owned Utilities (Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power are both IOUs).

Texas, one of the states where Exelon has invested heavily in purchasing elected officials has some intriguing insight for Arizona voters.
A prolonged August heat wave in Texas produced two periods of very high wholesale prices in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the wholesale market operator for most of the State. Day-ahead, on-peak wholesale power prices for August 2011 rose far above the range of prices seen during the previous five Augusts.
The increase in wholesale prices may appear in retail bills more quickly in Texas than they would in other states, as Texas mandates that most retail customers choose a competitive electricity supplier – thus removing the traditional cost-of-service retail rate regulatory process which often delays the blow of high wholesale prices.  
During the California power deregulation fiasco in 2000, that state experienced very serious crises as a result. I had as close to a front row seat as someone in Phoenix could have to view that situation. For six months, I worked on the bulk trading floor at Arizona Public Service doing accounting analysis for that utility's (imports) purchases and (exports) sales with the now defunct California Power Exchange and still in business California Independent System Operator (the organization responsible for the transmission grid in that state).


We also know that in order to accomplish its capitalist goals, Exelon has to get approval from state level regulators for most of the things they buy or build. So, it takes little or no stretch of the imagination to know that Exelon Corporation is up to no good by getting involved in the Arizona Corporation Commission election race this year.

We may not be able to do anything in the short term about Tom Horne, but we sure as the dickens can do something about Trash Burner Bob, Susan B.S. and ALEC Legacy member Bob Burns.

VOTE NO on Burns, B.S. and Trash Burner Bob.

Vote YES for the Solar Team of Marcia Busching, Sandra Kennedy and Paul Newman.

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