With the deadline to submit signatures for the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana for the Arizona November election fast approaching, a $10,000 donation made to an Arizona anti-marijuana group has caused a bit of a stir. Worst of all, the donation came from Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, the parent company of Arizona’s utility company, Arizona Public Service (APS). Therefore, in one capacity or another, every Arizonan involuntarily and unknowingly made a slight donation to an anti-marijuana group in Arizona.
A statement was released this week from APS saying that, “No customer money went toward the contribution.” But the fact of the matter is that the money that the company receives is from ratepayers and shareholders. The donation itself raises eyebrows as it goes against Pinnacle West Capital Corporation’s own policy, Phoenix New Times reports.
Pinnacle West is permitted to make a profit under the monopoly status it holds. The company can do as it wishes with those profits. The Arizona Attorney General has threatened to order a utility requesting the corporation’s accounting books. Accusations of the donation being based upon the personal views of corporation heads and that the funds spent have been done so with a specific political agenda.
Local attorney Tom Ryan said, “They are taking our money and using it for private speech purposes. There’s no benefit to us. They’re helping out some buddies who are helping them out. That’s all.”
Corporation Commissioner Bob Burns says, “Simply put, dollars that APS has received from ratepayers in order to recover the costs of providing utility service should not be used for political speech. Unfortunately, I have thus far seen no evidence that such funds are not being spent on political speech.”
Oakland-based energy program manager, Amelia Timbers, commented that the contribution is a direct violation of Pinnacle West’s own policy. She claims that the move “potentially alienates customers, stakeholders, and shareholders that do not share the same controversial political views of the company’s management.” Timbers also went on to say that the contribution was “the clearest example yet that [Pinnacle West’s] political spending reflects its executive management’s personal agendas rather than valid business purposes.”
Quoted from the Pinnacle West spokesman Jim McDonald himself, “Our concern emanates from the employment-law language in the proposal, especially considering the public-safety aspects involved in supplying reliable electric service to APS customers. The initiative simply does not support the kind of workplace required to operate the electric grid, make repairs to the system after a monsoon storm, or operate the nation’s largest nuclear power plant. No customer money went toward the contribution.”