The Arizona Corporation Commission adopted the Commission’s Code of Ethics last week. The finalized Code of Ethics outlines ethical behavior at the Commission, but does nothing to guarantee that the ethically challenged commissioners will act in an ethical manner.
The Code incorporates some of the amendments that were proposed during the Commission’s Open Meeting on March 13, 2018.
Commissioner Andy Tobin strenuously opposed an amendment offered by Commissioner Justin Olson that read:
Commissioner shall not solicit or accept food, refreshments, or any other items paid for by members of the regulated community.
Tobin speaks in opposition to Commissioner Justin Olson’s proposed Amendment No. 2.
Tobin tried to argue that participating in a “potluck” by someone who is a customer of a regulated utility could be equated to accepting items of value from regulated utilities. He claimed that a commissioner could find themselves in an ethical bind if they were at a conference and a regulated utility happened to contribute to cover the cost of a cup of coffee.
While Tobin’s argument was absurd, it is understandable that he would have concerns given his experience with accepting items of value from regulated utilities. Case in point; a trip he took through Tobin’s Arizona Legislative Academy, which is an “educational course for newly-elected members of the state legislature.” As the ADI reported in November 2017, Tobin is the head of the Arizona Legislative Academy.
According Brett Hovell, Associate Vice President for the Arizona State University Office of Media Relations and Strategic Communications, donations to the Arizona Legislative Academy came from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Ritoch-Powell & Associates, Tohono O’Odham Nation, Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, CRP/WP Scottsdale Owner, LLC, Davis Design Solutions, J2 Engineering & Environmental Design, LLC, Nathan & Associates, Inc., Sherpa Public Affairs, LLC, Sustainability Engineering Group, LLC, and The Molera Alavarez Group, LLC.
Legislators and lobbyists, some who serve the regulated utilities took the Mexico trip in August 2017.
From the ADI article, Tobin, Legislator’s Trade Trip To Mexico Raise Questions About Conflicts:
Tobin, in his role as corporation commissioner, regulates the richest companies that belong to the chambers.
In fact, Jessica Pacheco with Arizona Public Service (APS) is the chair of the Arizona Chamber Foundation, which is “the leading resource for forward-thinking, expert research and analysis on the public policy issues that impact Arizona’s business environment, according the Foundation’s website.
Molly Greene, with the Salt River Project (SRP) serves as the chamber’s Chair of Water, Energy & Natural Resources Committee.
Karrin Taylor, who is associated with the Robson group, which controls Cornman Tweedy, which is in a fight with Arizona Water Company over control of water, is the chair of the chamber’s Federal Affairs and Arizona Strategies Committee. Robson family members, including Taylor, appear on the 2018 (4th Quarter) finance report for Commission Forese’s campaign. The Robson family, not including Taylor gave considerable money to the Boyd Dunn 2016 campaign.
The ADI continues to make requests for information. The Corporation Commission, ASU, Arizona Legislative Academy, and the Arizona House of Representatives have not responded in a timely manner to those requests.
Commissioner Boyd Dunn led three workshops to receive input from commissioners and stakeholders.