My friend, Barry Goldwater Jr., paid spokesman for TUSK (“Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed”), has spoken on the race for Arizona Corporation Commission, and his words are an incitement to hearty debate. I write in defense of the candidate I have endorsed, Doug Little, whose candidacy has elicited a degree of ferocity that is entirely disproportionate to his views — which are mainstream — and disrespectful of his values, which are stellar.
Goldwater says that utility monopolies’ spending on candidates for Corporation Commission is akin to “purchas[ing] politicians beholden to them,” which means “our rates will go up as those elected will be indebted to those who spent to put them there.”
Goldwater surely knows that Doug Little is no more “beholden” or “indebted” to APS’s unbidden alleged “dark money” spending than Vernon Parker and Lucy Mason are to TUSK, given TUSK’s largesse on their behalf. Spending is spending, and transparency regarding donors is entirely beside the point when considering the integrity of these candidates, all four of whom have it in spades.
Goldwater offers zero evidence — none — in presenting a portrait of Little that would make Attila the Hun blush (if he were a utility regulator). And he tears a page from the Democratic playbook which he strains constantly to deplore: Little’s policies would harm seniors, churches, and schools — perhaps even the Little Sisters of Charity — because he is “vehemently anti-solar.”
Never mind that Little has made no comments to that effect. Contrary to the deceptive signs erected by TUSK, Little does not support the Arizona Department of Revenue’s position on taxing leased rooftop solar systems — he’s said so, publicly, at the Arizona Investment Council debate, on July 16, 2014: “I don’t agree with the DOR’s position, [and] my position is being misrepresented.”
Little is pro-solar but equally intent on protecting ratepayers — a position which TUSK, whose members are out-of-state solar companies with scant incentive to concern themselves with the pocketbooks of Arizona ratepayers, apparently finds objectionable. TUSK and its supporters’ hardball campaign style — declaring those with contrary views as “haters” of solar, “liars” and “[Expletive] of the Day” and professing crocodile-tear concerns for Republican electoral vulnerabilities — is, sadly, on partial display in Goldwater’s letter.
Let me be blunt: Those with varying degrees of enthusiasm for President Obama’s energy agenda have shrewdly chosen to triangulate by deploying Republican spokespersons to tar conservatives — such as Little — as liberals. It is telling that TUSK has spent not one cent opposing any Democrat running for any office. Instead, it professes to save the Republican Party from itself by working to defeat Republicans.
It is too cute by half, and the irony makes the mind reel: Out-of-state solar company executives — fond of the president’s agenda, with business before the commission, and financially supportive of their preferred commission candidates — painting as an Obama supporter a conservative whose integrity, they claim, is in doubt because he is the beneficiary of alleged political spending from a utility with business before the Commission.
TUSK’s behavior speaks volumes. Little’s views and character would speak for themselves, if only TUSK would stop misrepresenting them.
Bob Stump is chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission