Campaign finance reports filed last night by Arizonans For Affordable Electricity, a group created to fight a clean energy ballot initiative, shows that Pinnacle West Corporation contributed another $3,512,000 to the campaign from July 1 to August 11. Pinnacle West is the parent company of Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest monopoly electric utility.
A total of $11,048,300 has now been contributed to Arizonans For Affordable Electricity by the utility.
Arizonans for Sustainable Energy Policy, another group set up by APS to fight clean energy by backing certain Arizona Corporation Commission candidates, did not report additional contributions from Pinnacle West this filing period. The total amount of money from the utility to Arizonans for Sustainable Energy Policy still stands at $3,200,000.
Last week, the Arizona secretary of state’s office announced that the Clean Energy For a Healthy Arizona measure qualified for the ballot after state officials determined that the proposal submitted enough sufficient valid signatures.
However, Arizonans for Affordable Electricity continues with its lawsuit to prevent voters from seeing the clean energy initiative. Attorneys for the Pinnacle West funded group contend that 70 percent of the names are not valid. If approved by voters in November, the Clean Energy Healthy Arizona measure would increase the amount of electricity that APS and other utilities generate from renewable sources to 50% by 2030. The trial began on Monday.
Arizonans for Affordable Electricity made news in July when reports surfaced that Petition Partners, a firm hired with the Pinnacle West cash, offered “signing bonuses” of up to $7,500 to petition gatherers working for the renewable energy initiative if they quit collecting signatures for the clean energy campaign and instead joined Petition Partners.
Matt Benson of Veridus LLC, a PR, and lobbying firm that has led APS’ campaign against the clean energy ballot initiative throughout 2018 and the spokesperson for both Arizonans for Affordable Energy and Arizonans for Sustainable Energy Policy, said there was nothing illegal or dirty about the tactic.
Arizonans for Affordable Energy reported on its latest campaign finance report that it paid a total of $1,662,546.67 to Petition Partners — $1.5 million on July 6 and the rest on August 8. Arizonans For Affordable Energy has spent a total of $7,612,546.67 for Petition Partners’ services.
Veridus LLC has now received a total of $179,068.18 from Arizonans for Affordable Energy and $55,000 from Arizonans for Sustainable Energy Policy.
In addition to the corporate money, the Pinnacle West Capital Corporation PAC reported that it contributed another $4,000 to candidate campaigns – bringing its total to date to campaigns, PACs, and political parties to $863,700.
Also, Don Brandt, president and CEO of Pinnacle West and Arizona Public Service, gave $2,500 to the Ducey Victory Fund PAC on August 6. Brandt has contributed a total of $10,100 to that PAC. The PAC is considered an outside spending group since it was established by allies of the governor to help him win re-election. It also serves as a fundraiser for the Arizona Republican Party. In March, Gov. Ducey signed legislation that will limit financial penalties for utilities who fail to meet renewable energy standards if voters decide to increase them in November. APS admitted it helped craft this legislation.