After months of investigation, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said last week that his office erroneously attempted to remove Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) Commissioner Bob Burns by misinterpreting Burns’ previous association with a telecommunications group.
"Our office does not have reason to believe that Commissioner Burns is usurping, intruding into or unlawfully holding or exercising the office of corporation commissioner," Assistant Attorney General Brunn "Beau" Roysden said, conceding that Burns’ perceived association with a telecommunications group posed no conflict. "Our investigation did not find evidence that Commissioner Burns had a relationship with ATIC that would disqualify him… . Merely being listed as an authorized lobbyist with the secretary of state is insufficient to establish a violation."
Burns had joined a telecommunications trade group called Digital Arizona Council in 2012 in order to support a legislative bill. Although he resigned from the council after becoming a utility regulator in 2013, an affiliated organization, the Arizona Telecommunications and Information Council (ATIC), continued to include him as a lobbyist on its listings.
The error did not surface until 2015 when claims were made against ACC Commissioner Susan Bitter Smith in a similar vein.
When it was determined that Burns’ listing was an administrative oversight and that the attorney general found no evidence disqualifying Burns as an ACC commissioner, Burns expressed relief.
“I want to thank the attorney general for the thoroughness of his investigation,” Burns said. “This affirms what I have said all along. I am pleased with his findings and glad that this can now be put in the past, and it will no longer be a distraction to the important commission work that is in front of us.”
With no evidence to indicate that Burns was ever paid by ATIC or lobbied as a representative, the criminal and civil investigations are closed.