Lucy Mason and Vernon Parker, Republicans hoping to fill two vacant seats on the state’s energy and water regulating commission, say they have been libeled by a local anti-taxation group that sent a secretly funded campaign mailer slamming them and lauding two other Republican candidates.
Mason and Parker explain in a letter sent today to Scot Mussi, Executive Director of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, that they believe the group’s mailer makes claims that “rise to the level of being made in reckless regard of the truth, and given those we believe to be involved, with malice.”
Their letter says the two candidates have suffered “significant damage” and that they will “likely seek appropriate recompense for those damages.”
In the Free Enterprise Club mailer, the group claims that Mason and Parker support President Barack Obama’s energy plan and that “Obama’s ‘non-profit’ advocacy group is supporting Parker and Mason. They are even helping them raise money!”
Mason and Parker say in the letter that there is no truth to the two claims, and that they are sourced to news articles that do not support them.
The letter demands an apology and seeks an agreement about the value of damages the candidates say they suffered.
Campaign finance reports show the Free Enterprise Club spent about $96,000 on July 14 to send mailers opposing Mason and Parker, and supporting the other Republican slate, state Rep. Tom Forese, R-Gilbert, and businessman Doug Little.
Because the Arizona Free Enterprise Club is a 501(c)(4) group, it does not have to disclose who gives it money. Parker and Mason have already accused the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service, of being behind the unusually large campaign spending on what is typically a less spotlighted race.
APS would not comment on whether they have given money to non-profit groups spending on the Corporation Commission race. Mussi did not return multiple calls requesting a comment.