Commissioner Bob Burns, who has earned a reputation as a fearless watchdog, was elected as Chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, on Monday. Burns was elected after the swearing-in of Commissioner Sandra Kennedy and Commissioner Justin Olson, who were elected to office this past November.
Burns replaces the highly controversial outgoing Chairman Tom Forese.
“I wish to thank the Commissioners for providing me the opportunity to serve them as their chairman as we work together to serve the ratepayers and citizens of Arizona,” said Chairman Burns in a press release. “I believe that when the founders created the Arizona Corporation Commission they intended that each member would have equal responsibility and authority. In order to exercise that responsibility and authority, I invite all members of this Commission, to at any time, bring ideas or proposals to me that they wish to have discussed and I will include them on a Commission Staff Meeting for discussion and debate.”
Burns has been a member of the 5-person elected Commission since 2012. Prior to serving on the Arizona Corporation Commission, Chairman Burns served in the Arizona House of Representatives and was President of the Arizona State Senate. This is his final term at the Corporation Commission.
During his tenure on the Commission, Burns has fought tirelessly for increased transparency.
For years, Burns fought for the right to look at the financial records of Arizona Public Service (APS) and its parent company Pinnacle West Capital Corp., in an effort to ascertain whether or not APS unduly influenced the elections of commissioners.
Burns has alleged that APS and Pinnacle West “have used, and continue to use, funds to support particular candidates running for seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission” (ACC). Burns has argued that the funds are generated from “fees collected by APS from its Arizona customers”; and that these funds were expended to secure the “goodwill” and “allegiance” of certain candidates in order to secure “favorable treatment of APS in proceedings before the ACC.”
It is widely believed that APS or Pinnacle West contributed part, or all, of the over $3 million spent by in 2014 to the campaigns of Forese and former Commissioner Doug Little.