The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has firmly stated that the content of Commissioner Bob Stump’s text messages are no longer available. In fact, there are ways the commission can obtain text message content, detailed below.
These are public records because they are related to Stump’s job as Corporation Commissioner, a fact that is further confirmed by Stump submitting his personal Verizon account invoices for payment by Arizona taxpayers. The ACC is resisting calls to provide these records. Why? Text logs suggest that former chairman Bob Stump may have been carrying out public business through text messages on his personal phone and does not want the public to see what he was communicating.
Issue a Subpoena
The Arizona constitution empowers the ACC to “act in a Judicial capacity sitting as a tribunal.” Chairman Susan Bitter Smith, like all of the members of the Arizona Corporation Commission, has subpoena power. If she really wanted to know if former Chairman Stump was engaged in illegal electioneering prior to the August 26, 2015, GOP primary election, she could subpoena the text message content from Verizon and read what Stump was texting.
To learn if Verizon provides text message content, I called customer service at (800) 922-0204 on two separate occasions, most recently on May 29, 2015, and asked to speak to a manager or senior customer service representative. Here’s the essence of the conversations:
Q: If Verizon is presented with a subpoena, will it provide text message content?
A: Yes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a criminal or civil case, if Verizon is presented with a subpoena, we will provide text message content.
I was also given the phone number of the Verizon legal department.
Scrape His Phones
Another way for Chairman Bitter Smith to have the truth come out or restore Commissioner Stump’s credibility would be to immediately create a copy of the content of his phone with Oxygen Forensic Suite 2015 7.3, Cellbrite UFED Pro Series, or other products used by investigators worldwide, and release a copy of the results.
Unless Commissioner Stump has destroyed his phone, removed the SIM (data) card, purposefully deleted texts, or updated the operating system software, the text message content and Gmails that we have requested under the Arizona records act still reside on his phone.
We are not interested in text message content or Gmails between Stump and his family and friends. However, as we have detailed previously, information extracted from Stump’s text message logs raise questions about what he was doing in the months leading up to the primary election:
Preserve Stump’s Phone
On June 2, our attorney sent a letter to the ACC’s outside counsel, David Cantelme, asking that Commissioner Stump:
- Not delete any texts, photos, messages or any data in general.
- Not remove the battery, sim or data cards.
- Not update the software on the phone. This includes the operating system or applications.
- Keep the phone in a dry area away from extreme temperatures and direct sunlight.
- To the extent possible, discontinue use of the cell phone, by placing it in airplane mode or in a Faraday bag.
That should not be a problem. After all, the ACC has issued the commissioner another, official T-Mobile phone – which he rarely uses.
Now Chairman Bitter Smith, up to you.
Scott Peterson is executive director of the Checks and Balances Project, a national watchdog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from pro-clean energy philanthropies and donors.