By Gary Grado | Arizona Capitol Times
State utility regulators unanimously approved a new code of ethics July 10, including new limits on how much anyone with business before them can contribute to candidates for the Arizona Corporation Commission.
But two of the panel members said the wording has a gaping hole that could still give utilities a way of financing their favorite commission candidates, at least indirectly.
The language crafted by Boyd Dunn technically does not keep current and wannabe commissioners from taking campaign cash from utilities and others who are trying to convince the panel to approve or reject some pending issue. Instead it says that if people take the money they cannot vote on any matter before the commission affecting that person or corporation.
The idea, said Dunn, is to make it clear, particularly to the public, that there is no nexus between a campaign contribution and how a commissioner votes.
But here’s the thing: Candidates can still take money from individuals on the do-not-give list, ranging from company owners and executives to staffers, lobbyists and even hired attorneys, but only if they are running with public financing.