investigator shutterstock_210164962In response to our lawsuit on Oct. 28, 2015,  a spokesman for the Arizona Attorney General’s office told both Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services and Laurie Roberts of The Arizona Republic that AG investigators have found “thousands of texts” on Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump’s iPhone 5.

This is another blow to the credibility of the Arizona Corporation Commission, whose representatives have stated repeatedly that the texts do not exist.

Lifting the Veil

Our own investigation of a Verizon text message log demonstrates that leading up to Arizona’s Republican primary election on August 26, 2014, Stump texted extensively with a top APS lobbyist and others in a dark money election scheme that may have provided funds to elect pro-utility candidates and defeat pro-solar candidates. We want to see the actual language of those texts. If Stump coordinated the use of independent expenditure funds with the campaigns of winning candidates Doug Little and Tom Forese, it may have violated Arizona election law.

Stump’s taxpayer-funded iPhone 5, seized from a safe at the Commission on July 21 by AG investigators, has been in their custody ever since. Until now, there has been no word what if anything they had found. The statements by the AG’s office directly contradicts previous statements from the Corporation Commission. They are excerpted here:

April 30, 2015 – Letter from ACC Attorney Bridget Humphrey to C&BP attorney Dan Barr

“[A]fter Commissioner Stump’s search of his cell phone, Commissioner Stump reported that he did not have any texts that were responsive to [the March 11, 2015] public records request.” Additionally, “Commissioner Stump provided his cell phone to Rebecca Wilder, the Commission’s Public Information Officer and a Custodian of the Commission’s Public Records,” who “reviewed Commissioner Stump’s cell phone messages and found no text messages between Commissioner Stump and an [APS] or Pinnacle West Capital Corporation representative.”

May 11, 2015 – Letter from ACC attorney Bridget Humphrey to C&BP Executive Director Scott Peterson

The Commission reported that “Commissioner Stump and Advisor Ho provided their cell phones to Rebecca Wilder, who “reviewed their cell phone text messages and found no relevant text messages.”

June 15, 2015 – Letter from ACC attorney David Cantelme to C&BP attorney Dan Barr

The Commission’s outside counsel, David Cantelme, wrote: “the text messages in question do not exist.” Commissioner Stump “routinely deleted text messages meeting the required nexus once their administrative or reference value ended” and did so “not long after he received them.”

In response to our suggestion “that deleted text messages might be retrieved by the Oxygen Analyst 7.3 program,” Cantelme responded that messages on Commissioner Stump’s iPhone 3 “cannot be retrieved under any circumstances, because the device itself no longer exists.”

Text Message Logs Don’t Lie

The text logs show that Commissioner Stump exchanged more than 20,000 text messages during a 10 1/2 month period. Many were with public officials, candidates for public office, or other people with business before the Commission. Were these messages really just for personal communications, like arranging dates to the symphony? Or were they about something that a guilty person would go to great lengths to hide?


Scott Peterson is executive director of the Checks and Balances Project, a national watchdog blog 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.