For a while now, the largest utility company in Arizona, Arizona Public Service Co., has been facing accusations of political spending. Finally, the company admitted that it secretly backed favored candidates for the state commission with millions of dollars. In the year 2014, they gave $3.2 million to candidates of their choice during the Corporation Commission races.
For more than four years, the company refused to deny or admit to the accusations or to participating in elections. Now, people are concerned about the company’s privilege of a regulated monopoly. Some have suggested that making political contributions may affect APS customers adversely and so it should not be permitted. Tom Ryan, one of Phoenix’s well-known attorneys had this to say;
“They are using the ratepayers’ money against the ratepayers to increase the rates.” After reports of the company spending a total of $12.8 million on 15 political groups, it received negative press and the FBI launched an investigation against the company and its CEO Don Brandt. One of the political spendings was as early as last month in support of a Democrat. APS also revealed that it spent $4.1 million to influence regulations in 2016 and about $40 million to influence the decision about a citizens initiative in 2018. The director of external relations at APS Jenna Rowell said;
“The citizens initiative would have had a direct impact on our business, customers, and Arizona as a whole. We had to get involved early and we told everyone about it at the time. We told everyone why we decided to get involved in blocking that policy.”
For now, the only thing the company is facing is bad press and this would most likely impact its shares and profit. The FBI has not yet mentioned any legal violations that would require penalization.