Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, June 19, 2015

Stump and ACC get body Check(ed) for Balance.

Despite the shortcomings of the Fourth Estate here in Arizona, and despite Republican opposition to being held accountable, eventually there will be (body) checks (figuratively, of course) to limit abuse of power and legal (and illegal) corruption in our state government.

Yesterday, I questioned the depth (lack thereof) of coverage by the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Capitol Times' Yellow Sheet Report concerning the ongoing effort by Virginia-based Checks and Balances Project to compel disclosure of ex parte communications between Trash Burner Bob Stump and Arizona Public Service.

APS, of course, is the largest Investor-Owned Utility in our state and is ostensibly regulated by a commission to which the people of Arizona delegate authority by way of the state constitution and elections for commissioners. Also yesterday, while I toiled away at my keyboard, as I suspected, C&BP attorney Dan Barr was busy preparing the next step.

This morning, C&BP released a statement along with a "final demand letter" to the Arizona Corporation Commission.
June 19, 2015 – Checks and Balances Project (C&BP) announced today that it has sent a letter to the Arizona Corporation Commission to demand immediate access to Commissioner Bob Stump’s phone and other devices that use the (602) 647-0433 phone number. If the Commission refuses to comply by 5:00 p.m. on June 26, 2015, C&BP will file a special action in Maricopa County Superior Court to obtain access to the phone and public records that remain on them. 
“Commissioner Stump’s text message logs and emails appear to show that he was conducting public business on his private Verizon account to promote the interests of monopoly utilities,” said Scott Peterson, executive director of C&BP. “Now the Commission has hired a high-priced attorney at public expense to assert that the messages are gone. Yet readily available technology or the Commission’s own subpoena powers put these messages within easy reach. Let’s be clear. The Commission can get these messages. They just don’t want anyone to see them. [...]
Says C&BP attorney Dan Barr: “It would have been far easier for Commissioner Stump to comply with his legal duties under the Public Records Law had he used his Corporation Commission email account instead of texting on his private phone and then apparently deleting many of those texts soon afterward. Nevertheless, those text messages are still on Commissioner Stump’s phone. The Corporation Commission has two choices and only two choices. Either it will comply with the Public Records Law and give us access to Commissioner Stump’s phone so we can extract those texts that are public records from it or we will get a court to order them to do so.”
From the final demand letter, (rather than transcribing it, here are screenshots of it)

So, there you have it. If we don't hear from the Corporation Commission by next Friday, we can expect Barr to file a special action in Maricopa County Superior Court to compel disclosure. Barr and C&BP have retained the services of a forensic expert to, once access is given to the Stumpmeister's cell phone, retrieve the content of the text messages in question.

I will keep you posted. In the meantime, stay hydrated and as much as possible, stay indoors... if you're anywhere in the central Arizona desert regions.

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