An investigation into Arizona Commissioner Bob Stump’s phone records found that he exchanged hundreds of text messages with a utility executive at Arizona Public Service, the head of a “dark money” group with ties to APS, and two pro-utility candidates in the weeks leading up to the Arizona Corporation Commission’s primary election on August 26, 2014.
The information was uncovered by the Checks and Balances Project, a nonprofit funded by the sustainability group Renew American Prosperity and clean energy philanthropists and donors. Checks and Balances claims the text message history reveals inappropriate ties between the Arizona regulator and the state’s largest utility, as well as possible electioneering.
The two Republican candidates Stump exchanged messages with, Thomas Forese and Doug Little, went on to win the primary and the general election. Forese and Little ran against two pro-solar Republicans, Vernon Parker and Lucy Mason, who were supported by the rooftop solar advocacy group Tell Utilities Solar Won’t be Killed (TUSK).
Ahead of the election, Parker and Mason said they believed Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service, was donating to their opponents via the Free Enterprise Club — a dark-money group headed by Scot Mussi. APS has neither confirmed nor denied these allegations.