Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, October 21, 2013

Remember the AstroTurf, er... Alamo! UPDATED 10-22-13 12:45pm MST

Once upon a time in the desert there was Nathan Sproul, founder and managing partner of Lincoln Strategies Group.

In the summer of 2011, there was a prolonged firestorm of controversy surrounding the start of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission mapping process, beginning with the selection of legal and mapping consultants. In August that year, I posted:
Nathan Sproul is a well known Arizona GOP operative who has been linked to voter fraud... His characterization of the current situation with the AIRC is fraught with exaggeration, obviously intended to scare the hell out of any god-fearing Christian Republican in Arizona.

"If this commission successfully implements its hyper-partisan agenda, there is a distinct possibility that Arizona will only send 3 Republicans to Congress and the Democrats will send 6. Additionally, the strong majorities enjoyed by Republicans in the Legislature will surely evaporate. 
"If Arizona becoming California without the beach is o.k. to you, don’t pay attention to the AIRC. But, if California isn’t your idea of prosperity, pay attention and make your voice heard."
In the same blog post, I speculated that perhaps local Republican PR guru Jason Rose was behind the obvious astroturf campaign that badgered the AIRC that summer. The campaign and the badgering continued into 2012 (when the maps were completed and sent off to DOJ for preclearance).
The UNfair Trust, by fronting two attorneys to speak on its behalf, signaled its readiness to engage in a litigious battle. Introduce Jason Rose with Nathan Sproul, and you have a better idea of the kind of street fight the next couple of months could see.
Of course, after the public hearings, the GOP focused the effort on litigation, filing three lawsuits to continue badgering the AIRC, primarily in court.

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Cut to October 2013.

The Arizona Republic runs this story about Sproul's sinister plot to usurp the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Representatives of one of the state’s top consulting firms pitched a plan to Arizona Public Service Co. four years ago outlining how the utility could work behind the scenes to alter a commission established by the state Constitution to regulate it.
The plan proposed that APS fund a $4.3 million campaign using out-of-state non-profit groups to generate “fake controversies” regarding the Arizona Corporation Commission. Those controversies could sway voters and lead them to elect new regulators, the plan suggested, or could influence legislators to add additional seats on the commission. (emphasis mine)
The plan, titled “The Institute for Energy Policy,” was drafted by Lincoln Strategy Group, a Tempe-based political-consulting firm. It was presented to the utility’s chief executive soon after a contentious APS rate-increase case was settled by the commission, which regulates rates for most of the state’s utilities.
APS officials said the utility did not solicit the 20-page plan, which was obtained recently by The Arizona Republic. A company official called it “absurd.” Don Brandt, company chief executive, said he “immediately dismissed” the proposal in 2009.
After the report was presented, however, APS hired one of the two Lincoln Strategy employees who pitched the report to Brandt. She now serves as the utility’s top lobbyist. The other executive who pitched the report also left Lincoln Strategy and is being paid by APS as an outside consultant. 
Of course APS is going to deny they solicited the plan. BUT...
In 2009, Jessica Pacheco was working for Lincoln Strategy. She had been an APS employee from 1997 to 2006, when she left to become the lobbyist for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She joined Lincoln Strategy in 2007 and then was rehired by APS in 2009. [...]
Nathan Sproul, owner of Lincoln Strategy, said Pacheco and Murray came up with a proposal “at the request of APS” but that his company never implemented a plan.
Sproul would not comment further about the plan, citing client confidentiality.
He said he is not working for any company involved in the current APS solar debate. Sproul, a longtime Republican operative, has been involved in voter-registration controversies in several states. [...]
Not long after Brandt said he rejected the plan, Pacheco was rehired by APS and now is the utility’s head lobbyist. Murray, now a partner with Summit Consulting Group Inc., works as an APS contractor. [...]
The Plan 
The plan to change the Corporation Commission involved a three-year strategy and APS money funneled through non-profits with no apparent ties to the utility.
It called for creating two non-profit groups that would direct APS donations to generate research that would show the Corporation Commission’s decisions cost ratepayers money and hurt families. The plan called for making the non-profits appear as a grass-roots efforts rather than as well-funded operations directed by industry insiders with clear corporate goals. (emphasis mine)
According to the plan, the key non-profit would be the report’s namesake, the Institute for Energy Policy, which would have a national office in Washington, D.C., and chapters in various states and position itself as “a legitimate public-policy organization.”
The institute was supposed to conduct research activities to push public-policy objectives and “lobby members of Congress.”
The plan suggested the institute also involve itself in political issues in other states, which would obscure that it would be funded by APS to target an Arizona cause.
The plan said eliminating the five-member Corporation Commission would be difficult, as the panel was established by the state Constitution. The plan suggested pushing for voters either to add appointed members to the board or to make the state Legislature the final authority on utility rates.
“Arizona will have a budget to conduct survey research to begin developing solid messaging with the end goal of changing the selection process for the Arizona Corporation Commission,” the report stated.
Tweek that plan with only minor adjustments and you have the blueprint for UNfair Trust.

Do you believe in coincidence?

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Remember Network and Howard Beal?


You don't have to be a meek follower hoping only to be left alone.

While many people caught up in the Tea Party movement are earnest and well-meaning, evidence abounds that said movement is nothing more than a drummed up series of controversies, engineered by the likes of the Koch brothers.

It's time YOU Rise UP! I am. Many of my friends in Arizona are too.

It's time we all emulate what AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said today.
"No politician … I don’t care the political party … will get away with cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits. Don’t try it," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, according to prepared remarks for a speech in Las Vegas, Nev.
It's time to put a stop to the entire Koch brothers agenda.

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UPDATE

More than one person has sent me a link to this related Mother Jones story:
Power Company Comes Clean: We Bankrolled Arizona's Anti-Solar Blitz
In recent months, sunny Arizona has been the scene of a shady dark money-fueled battle pitting Arizona's largest electricity utility against the burgeoning solar power industry. Over the weekend, the fight took an interesting turn: The utility, the Arizona Public Service Company (APS), outed itself as a funder of two secretive nonprofits fueling the anti-solar fight—and revealed that it had funneled its anti-solar money through a political operative associated with the Koch brothers and their donor network.
Follow that? Some backstory might help. (continued at the Mother Jones link above)

1 comment:

  1. As I read this this morning I kept looking for a reference to this article published yesterday regarding APS using dark money to fight solar in Arizona: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/10/arizona-solar-dark-money-aps-net-metering-sean-noble

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