Campaign Funding Takes Center Stage at Corporation Commission Debate

Sep 23, 2014

At a Monday night debate the hottest issue among the four candidates for corporation commission was who might be funding their campaigns. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

Corporation Commission candidates Doug Little, Jim Holway, Sandra Kennedy and Tom Forese face off Monday night in a televised debate with host Ted Simons.
Credit Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

Save Our State Now and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club spent close to $1.5 million in the primary to secure the nomination of Republicans Doug Little and Tom Forese. And their spending on the general election won’t be known for weeks. Little and Forese say they have no way of knowing how much of that came from Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electric company, which is regulated by the commission. And neither group discloses donors. But, that did not keep Democrat Sandra Kennedy, ousted by voters two years ago, from making her own conclusions for the television audience.

“Clearly you can see who my opposition is. You can clearly see they are the APS-chosen candidates. I want to be your consumer advocate. Return me to the commission,” Kennedy said.

The whole issue drew a sharp response from Forese.

“The idea that it’s impossible that we have broad support is insulting. The idea that we could be bought is insulting. OK? I’m calling you out on it,” Forese said.

APS will neither confirm nor deny its spending on the race. So Jim Holway, the other Democrat candidate for the two open seats, said he thinks the current commission should demand APS answer whether it is trying to influence the election, something the all-Republican panel has so far declined to do.