Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How can we tell when Bob Stump is lying?

Here's Howie Fischer's blow by blow account of this morning's hearing.
PHOENIX -- Utility regulator Bob Stump deliberately destroyed thousands of text messages from his state-issued phone specifically to hide what he was doing from the public, an attorney charged in court on Tuesday.
"We have a public official conducting public business on a public phone,' Dan Barr, who represents the Checks and Balances Project, told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner. He wants the judge to issue an order essentially censuring Stump for what even commission attorneys have admitted was his routine practice of deleting emails.
But Tim LaSota, a private attorney representing Stump in the litigation, called Barr's claims "pure speculation.'
Well, since LaSota's paid to represent Stump's interests rather than presenting an objective take on the situation, what else would you expect him to say? Fact is, rather than speculation taken out of thin air, counsel for Checks and Balances Project director Scott Peterson made reasonable inferences* based on known facts. For example, Sean Noble -- one of the people with whom Stump engaged in clandestine communication via text message -- is a known agent of the Koch Brothers network of Dark Money operators.

Claims of "pure speculation" to dismiss Stump's 20,000 text messages as ONLY being social and not about conducting the People's business, seem ironic. That is, especially in light of Stump's invocation of Randy Kendrick, wife of Arizona Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick, in a tweet yesterday.
From the Washington Post (the story linked in Stump's tweet),
Randy Kendrick, an influential conservative donor based in Arizona, is rallying other wealthy contributors to finance a last-ditch campaign against GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump, saying she has been appalled by his incendiary remarks about immigrants and his reluctance to denounce white supremacists in a television interview last month.
Kendrick, who is active in the Koch political network and is the wife of Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick, said in an interview that she was moved to act by the accumulation of Trump’s provocative rhetoric.
Journalist Jane Mayer's current best selling non-fiction account, Dark Money: the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, references Randy Kendrick several times,
As Obama was put on the defensive about the economy, another line of attack was stealthily attracting the attention of many of the same wealthy financial backers. At the Kochs' secretive January summit in Palm Springs, one of the group's largest donors, Randy Kendrick, posed a question... wanted to know what the group planned to do to stop Obama from overhauling America's health-care system. (page 185)
The ellipsis in that quote represents narrative that describes who Randy Kendrick and her husband Ken are and what they do in Arizona. Mayer cites some beneficiaries of Koch and Kendrick money.
... the Kendricks were horrified by the election of Obama. They were charter members of the Kochs' donor network, having written at least one seven-figure check. Their generosity had been a two-way street. They had supported institutions that the Kochs favored, such as the Institute for Humane Studies and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The Kochs had meanwhile supported the "Freedom Center" at the University of Arizona that they founded, where the Kendrick Professor of Philosophy taught "freedom" to college students.
Would it be "pure speculation" or a "reasonable inference" to suggest that Bob Stump is more interested in the "freedom" of Arizona Public Service to gouge ratepayers and kill distributed generation than that of captive ratepayers?

Even Arizona Republic's resident conservative editorial columnist Bob Robb recognizes the problem.
The Arizona Corporation Commission was designed to protect captive ratepayers against being abused by monopoly providers. There will be a political day of reckoning for APS’ attempt to distort a process intended to provide a layer of protection against it, and then playing coy about it.
But I digress.

From the Verde Independent story quoted at the top of this post,

He pointed out that there were actually two requests of the commission.
The first was of Stump's emails over a 10 1/2 month period ending in mid 2014. That produced 232 documents, but only one of which was actually written by Stump.
Yet over that same period, a log showed that Stump exchanged more than 20,000 texts.
"It became pretty clear what was happening is that Commissioner Stump was using his state-issued phone to conduct state business by text message,' Barr said.
"That wasn't an accident,' he continued. "If he had used his corporation commission account, the emails would have been on the server, could have easily been maintained as was the statutory duty, and could have easily have been produced by the corporation commission.' [...]
"We're in this situation because Commissioner Stump created this situation,' he told Warner. "He did it in a way so the corporation commission could not preserve those records, he did it in a way so he could illegally delete those records, and then saying, too bad, so sad to anyone making the public records request.'
All that left Warner wondering how he could adjudicate the case and determine if Stump had broken the law. The judge said Barr's request essentially asks him to determine that certain records which are no longer available actually were public records that should have been maintained. [...]
Barr is separately asking Warner for a new review of the text messages that were provided to retired Judge David Cole, the special master chosen to see what was recovered, who determined that none of what he did see was public. Barr said his client is willing to pay for a forensic expert to see if more could be recovered.
[Judge] Warner gave no indication when he will rule.
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* The term "Reasonable Inferences" means "conclusions which are regarded as logical by reasonable people in the light of their experience in life." [Lannon v. Hogan, 719 F.2d 518, 521 (1st Cir. Mass. 1983)]


A related term, an "Adverse Inference" is

... generally is a legal inference, adverse to the concerned party, made from a party's silence or the absence of requested evidence. For example, as a sanction for spoliation of evidence, a court may instruct the jury it could draw an inference that the evidence contained in the destroyed documents would have been unfavorable.
Is it any wonder that this pathetic excuse for an elected official (Stump) resorts to using Twitter to spew shiny object propaganda hoping to keep voters and law enforcement/courts from making adverse inferences about his violations of Arizona's Public Records Laws?

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