Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Beware the High-Voltage Wires -- APS sued Bob Burns to quash subpoenas

On Friday, right before the weekend -- a traditional time to break news one hopes will not get much attention -- Arizona Public Service and its mother ship, Pinnacle West Capital Corp sued Corporation Commissioner Bob Burns in Maricopa County Superior Court claiming the subpoenas he issued recently are politically motivated and constitute illegal harassment. APS's action and statements are dripping with irony.

Robert Anglen, Arizona Republic reporter, posted about it Friday evening.
Arizona's largest utility is suing a state regulator for trying to determine if it used money from ratepayers to influence an election.
Arizona Public Service Co., in a series of legal filings Friday, said subpoenas filed by Arizona Corporation Commissioner Robert Burns are unlawful and is asking the court to make him pay legal fees and other costs.
APS accused Burns of using his official position to harass and retaliate against the company in violation of the First Amendment. They said he intentionally made demands to coincide with key election dates to influence the 2016 commission races.
"Commissioner Burns is demanding election-related disclosures based on his personal view that support for any particular (Arizona Corporation Commission) candidate should be open and transparent," APS Vice President Barbara Lockwood wrote in a letter to the commission Friday. "Arizona law does not require the disclosure he demands."
A spokesman for APS said Friday that the documents laid out the company’s position and he would have no further comment.
“We don’t discuss pending litigation,” APS spokesman Jim McDonald said.
First, typically institutions targeted with litigation generally don't discuss pending litigation. APS launched this attack. One would think they'd want to tell their story about the situation. But they don't.

Might that be because the more attention the public pays to the lawsuit, the greater the likelihood it will backfire on APS?

Second, Arizona's two largest power utilities, APS and Salt River Project are ALWAYS, during legislative sessions, working diligently to exert political influence on lawmaking. While they do some of that work in the open, very few everyday citizens ever hear about it.

This blog has covered these issues on numerous occasions over the last four plus years. Scan through the archives (in the right hand column) for background insight.

For a utility that's accustomed to being protected by elected officials, don't you (now that Bob Burns is persecuting and harassing them) feel a deep sense of compassion for poor buggers like APS/Pinnacle West chairman and CEO Don Brandt (who reportedly makes $12 Million/year)? By the way, Pinnacle West (a publicly traded company) is worth, according to it's 2015 annual report, more than $7.1 Billion (see page 19 of the linked pdf file).




The squawking from an agency under investigation by the FBI for its role in the triumphant installation of Doug Little and Tom Forese, APS's wholly-owned stooges, seems a lot like a cat that got its tail caught under a rocking chair.

Beyond just the squealing, APS and Pinnacle West are conducting themselves as if they are cornered predators. That's not necessarily unreasonable. They are predators after all. And if Burns is re-elected along with Bill Mundell and Tom Chabin winning the two other open seats in November, they might actually be boxed into a corner.

A sweet set of possibilities for sure from the vantage of Arizona ratepayers and citizens.

Barbara Lockwood also wrote, in an item filed with the Corporation Commission,
The Commission is clearly entitled to APS information as it relates to setting electric rates. As such, and completely independent of these subpoenas, APS will provide the requested publicly-available APS information to Commissioner Burns on September 15th. APS will also provide the remaining responsive non-public APS information upon the execution of an appropriate confidentiality agreement, as is routine Commission practice for the disclosure of non-public information. This information will demonstrate, yet again, that no ratepayer funds have been used for political purposes.
Through his subpoenas, Commissioner Burns is demanding election-related disclosures based on his personal view that support for any particular ACC candidate should be open and transparent. As a citizen, Commissioner Burns is entitled to his view, but as a Commissioner, he is bound to follow the law, and Arizona law does not require the disclosure he demands.
One can read between the lines of Lockwood's letter to the ACC. She states that "no ratepayer funds have been used for political purposes." But as has been reported repeatedly over the last several years, APS has refused to deny spending money to influence the election of commissioners who will do its bidding. This is not simply "Commissioner Burns' personal view." It's widely understood public opinion based on APS's non-denial denials over the years.

APS is hoping to bypass citizen concerns about its plutocratic abuse of the electoral process by getting courts to again assert that Corporations are People.

We must not allow them to get away with it.

*****

Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century

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