Back­ers of propo­si­tion pay for ads at­tack­ing Brnovich,

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE - BY HOWARD FIS­CHER CAPI­TOL ME­DIA SER­VICES

PHOENIX — Sup­port­ers of a re­new­able en­ergy bal­lot mea­sure have opened up a new front in their bid to get it ap­proved: an ex­pen­sive at­tack on At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mark Brnovich.

New re­ports ob­tained by Capi­tol Me­dia Ser­vices show that Clean En­ergy for a Healthy Ari­zona is spend­ing more than $3.6 mil­lion on tele­vi­sion ads call­ing Brnovich “cor­rupt’’ and urg­ing vot­ers to turn him out of of­fice — and sup­port Propo­si­tion 127.

What’s be­hind all that is the move by Brnovich’s of­fice to add some ver­biage to the de­scrip­tion of the ini­tia­tive that will ap­pear on the bal­lot to man­date that most elec­tric util­i­ties get at least 50 per­cent of their power from re­new­able sources by 2030.

Ini­tia­tive pro­po­nents con­tend the move will save money in the long run. The op­po­si­tion, funded by the par­ent com­pany of Ari­zona Pub­lic Ser­vice, claims it could add up to $1,900 a year to an av­er­age elec­tric bill.

State law re­quires the Sec­re­tary of State’s of­fice to come up with de­scrip­tions of all bal­lot mea­sures, with the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice given fi­nal re­view. But by the time Brnovich’s of­fice was done, the ver­biage was al­tered to say that the man­date, if ap­proved, would ap­ply “ir­re­spec­tive of cost to con­sumers.’’

“It’s not some­thing we wanted to do,’’ said cam­paign spokesman DJ Quin­lan of the com­mer­cials.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the at­tor­ney gen­eral made the un­prece­dented step of ma­nip­u­lat­ing bal­lot lan­guage,’’ he con­tin­ued. “We felt it was im­per­a­tive for us to sub­se­quently warn Ari­zona vot­ers that the lan­guage they’re go­ing to read on their bal­lot is not ac­tu­ally with this propo­si­tion.’’

Brnovich de­fended the lan­guage, say­ing it is fac­tu­ally ac­cu­rate. He said that the mea­sure, which would amend the Ari­zona Con­sti­tu­tion, moves away from ex­ist­ing re­quire­ments of how the Ari­zona Cor­po­ra­tion Com­mis­sion which now has purview over is­sues like this, sets rates.

But state Elec­tions Di­rec­tor Eric Spencer, who crafted the orig­i­nal ex­pla­na­tion -- the one with­out the ad­di­tional word­ing -- had his own thoughts.

“The Prop 127 lan­guage is cer­tainly eye­brow-rais­ing be­cause it cites in­for­ma­tion ex­oge­nous to the bal­lot mea­sure it­self,’’ Spencer wrote to the AG’s of­fice in an email, us­ing a term to mean that the words in the ex­pla­na­tion were not taken from the bal­lot lan­guage it­self but from out­side fac­tors.

“But, I’m sure you’ve cal­cu­lated the le­gal and po­lit­i­cal risks of adding that,’’ Spencer added.

What the new com­mer­cials seek to do is put a “why’’ be­hind the change. And that comes down to money.

It points out that in 2014, Pin­na­cle West gave $425,000 to the Repub­li­can At­tor­neys Gen­eral As­so­ci­a­tion which turned around and spent more than $1.8 mil­lion to de­feat Fele­cia Rotellini, Brnovich’s Demo­crat foe. Pin­na­cle West has given an­other $50,000 to RAGA in this elec­tion cy­cle.

“So when Prop 127 threat­ened APS’ prof­its, Brnovich bailed them out,’’ the com­mer­cial says.

Brnovich told Capi­tol Me­dia Ser­vices he is not con­cerned. In fact, the at­tor­ney gen­eral said he sees the com­mer­cial as an en­dorse­ment of sorts.

“I guess I must be do­ing some­thing right,’’ he said.

LOANED PHOTO

AN IM­AGE FROM AN AD­VER­TISE­MENT AGAINST AT­TOR­NEY Gen­eral Mark Brnovich is seen in this cour­tesy photo.

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