October 28, 2015 – Checks and Balances Project (C&BP) announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) that demands immediate access to public records on Commissioner Bob Stump’s taxpayer-funded smartphone. The Complaint for Special Action was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court.
“The Arizona Corporation Commission has racked up an enormous bill for taxpayers with high-priced contractors, months of delays and a series of misleading statements all to avoid answering basic questions about the conduct of Bob Stump while he was chairman. It’s sad to say, but this institution cannot be trusted to tell the truth. The time for evasion, delay, and misleading the public is over,” said C&BP Executive Director Scott Peterson.
“Commissioners must be impartial in their oversight and regulation of the state’s business community. Yet public records demonstrate that leading up to Arizona’s Republican primary election on August 26, 2014, then-Chairman Stump texted extensively with players in a dark money election scheme that may have provided the funds to elect pro-utility candidates and defeat pro-solar candidates,” Peterson continued.
“The Arizona Corporation Commission needs to get out of the way and let the public see what Bob Stump was really up to,” said Peterson.
Stump has waived off concerns, saying the hundreds of text messages with key players prior to the 2014 Arizona Republican primary for two open Corporation Commission seats were to arrange dates to the symphony and other appointments.
The suit comes after seven months of efforts by C&BP to access the text messages on Stump’s taxpayer-funded phones and other devices. Career investigators at the Arizona Attorney General’s office seized Stump’s iPhone 5 on July 21 and have not released it yet or the public records on the phone. Stump said he used the iPhone 5 after he had thrown away his taxpayer-funded iPhone 3. But the Commission later revealed that Stump had an additional phone, an iPhone 4, and an email with Verizon concerning that iPhone 4 was withheld until prompting by C&BP.
Despite Commissioner Stump’s efforts to delete the text messages, readily available technology may be able to recover the text messages that may still be on the phone. If those text messages still exist, Arizonans deserve to know what they say.
Says C&BP attorney Dan Barr: “It would have been far easier for Commissioner Stump to comply with his legal duties under the Public Records Law had he used his Corporation Commission email account instead of texting on his private phone and then apparently deleting many of those texts soon afterward. Nevertheless, those text messages should still be on Commissioner Stump’s phone that was seized by the Attorney General’s office on July 21, 2015. The Corporation Commission is the original custodian of Mr. Stump’s phone. They must comply with the Public Records Law and give us access to his phone so we can extract those texts that are public records.”
About Checks & Balances Project
A clean-energy public watchdog blog, C&BP asks questions of government officials, corporate managers and lobbyists who stand in the way of the growth of clean energy. Funding for C&BP comes from clean energy philanthropies and donors.