2 state commissioners target utilities' campaign donations in commission races

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Arizona Corporation Commissioners Susan Bitter Smith and Bob Burns said recently that  public service corporations, such as utilities and other entities, including solar companies, should cease making campaign contributions that affect Corporation Commission races.

The two Arizona Corporation Commissioners said that although each entity that has contributed does have a First Amendment right to support candidates, Bitter Smith and Burns have made it known that they prefer the organizations to “voluntarily refrain” from making campaign contributions that affect commission races.

Bitter Smith said in an interview on Friday that she and Burns sent a letter to public service companies, requesting that they voluntarily stay out of commission elections. The duo said the letter is meant to start a discussion that would then go before the entire commission.

The Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) and its parent company were heavy contributors in the 2014 election to two Republican commissioners, an Associated Press report said. Don Brandt, CEO of APS, said in May that the utility had no choice but to get into the political arena, with solar companies supporting their own candidates.

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