Monday, August 29, 2022

BREAKING: APS Spends Big To Elect Kari Lake; So, Too, Do Former Taylor Robson Endorsers, Others

Arizona’s two largest electric utilities have brought the power – and, the money – to Kari Lake’s effort to become the next Arizona Governor. Even if unintentionally.

APS’s parent company, Pinnacle West, has contributed more than $251,000 to the Republican Governors Association this election cycle, and Salt River Project (SRP) chipped in $50,000. APS has had a recent history of contributing large amounts to help elect outgoing Governor Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich, as well as funneling millions through dark money organizations to elect Corporation Commissioners.

The contributions to RGA are publicly disclosed quarterly, in filings with the Internal Revenue Service. A review of the most recent reports (below) indicate that PinnWest gave $101,000 in 2021 and $150,000 through the first six months of 2022. SRP’s two $25,000 checks both were reported this past June.

Ducey is the Chair of the national RGA powerhouse, which has raised $60M in 2022. RGA Press secretary Will Reinert tells Arizona’s Politics that the RGA is all in on the Arizona race between Republican nominee Kari Lake and Democrat Katie Hobbs. “In the Spring, we reserved $10M in ad time, and we added another million after the primary.”

Before the August 2 primary, Ducey blasted Lake and had been evasive during a CNN interview about whether the RGA would support Lake if she defeated Karrin Taylor Robson. ("To be determined...we don't support landslides.") The ad buys answer that question, and the first ad (which has stopped running) featured a woman associated with QAnon with the ad referencing child trafficking.

APS and SRP are not the only Arizona companies or individuals who put in significant amounts of funds to the RGA effort, even before the primary was decided. More than $2M in Arizona monies went to the RGA; there are 29 who contributed at least $10,000.  The RGA is gradually transferring it – and more – to its Arizona political committee to pay for the ads. (Note: Contributions to candidates are limited, but there are no limits to organizations such as the RGA. PinnWest does not contribute to the Democratic Governors Association.)

Many big contributors were Taylor Robson endorsees, and Arizona’s Politics has reached out to a few for their comments. None have responded yet, but it calls to mind Ducey’s well-reported comments indicating that he preferred Wendy Rogers to her (last) Democratic opponent because he wants to “move my agenda forward”. (We have also asked APS and SRP for comments, and will update this article as warranted.)

Lauren Kuby is running on a Democratic slate for Corporation Commission. Her slate partner is Sandra Kennedy, who is one of the candidates who was slimed by APS's previous dark money campaigns. Kuby issued this statement to Arizona's Politics:

Over $250,000 to weaken democracy, take away abortion rights, and deny climate science. Not a good look for APS... when we know that over 70% of Arizonans want to see a transition to a clean energy future. Their contribution to the Governor's race is disturbing. The flow of money to legislators who want to kneecap the powers of ACC stands in contradiction to their pledge to stay out of the ACC race. Let's shine a spotlight on these contributions, as the voters have a right to know who's trying to influence their elections and increase their electric utility rates.
Here is a list of the largest Arizona contributors to the RGA in 2022:

1. PinnWest, $251,000 (2021-22 combined)
2. Blandford Homes, $150,000
3. GM, LLC, $150,000
4. University of Phoenix, $125,000
5. SGA, $100,000
6. Timothy Day, $100,000
7. Charter One, LLC, $100,000
8. DFX, LLC, $100,000
9. Drew Brown (DMB Development), $100,000
10. John Hammergren, $70,000
11. Thirunavukkaras Thangarthinam (MST Solutions), $70,000
12. Gregory Milzcik, $70,000
13. Tom Lewis, $50,000
14. Offerpad, LLC, $50,000
15. Gila River Indian Community, $50,000
16. Lawrence Heitz, $50,000
17. Quynh Nhu Palomino, $50,000
18. Robert Delgado (Pres. Of Hensley), $50,000
19. Shamrock Foods, $50,000
20. SRP, $50,000
21. Art Martori, $35,000
22. El Dorado Holdings, $35,000
23. Barbara Barrett, $35,000
24. Jim Click, $35,000
25. Marilyn Hayden, $35,000
26. Jerre Stead (Clarivate PLC), $35,000

Links to the 2022 reports - 1st quarter and 2nd quarter.

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