APS cannot sanitize its shameful dark money legacy with strategic philanthropy and Anderson Cooper


Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com

aps logo
Dark money has the power to make a lot happen!

Last Saturday the ASU Center for the Study of Race and Democracy hosted an event, “Delivering Democracy Lecture 2015”, headlined by Anderson Cooper. I know many people who attended it and, from what I understand, it was a fine presentation. One of the main sponsors was Arizona Public Services (commonly known as APS, the state’s largest private utility company), which was apparently lauded several times during the event for its generosity. Which is interesting because it was only a few months ago, during the 2014 midterms, that APS (under the rubric of “independent expenditure” Save Our Future Now) dumped an astounding amount of dark money into Corporation Commission races to defeat Republican candidate Vernon Parker in the GOP primary and Democratic candidate Sandra Kennedy. What the aforementioned people have in common is that they are both African-American and also that the hit pieces and ads run against both were crudely obvious Willie Horton-style racist characterizations as far as many people (myself included) were concerned.

If there’s a doubt that Parker and Kennedy were targeted by APS because of their race, let me remind readers that both were running as teams with white candidates. Parker ran with former legislator Lucy Mason, who is a pro-renewable energy Republican. Save Our Future Now spent just over $30K in opposition of Mason but about $830K opposing Parker. But if you think that’s an alarming disparity, get a load of this (arrows helpfully provided by your author):

aps corp comm dark money

Jim Holway, who was every bit the solar enthusiast that Kennedy was, somehow didn’t rate a dime of oppo money spent against him while Sandra Kennedy warranted $1.3 million. If you think that Jim’s being about as white as Anderson Cooper has nothing to do with that, I’ve got an aging nuclear power plant to sell you round about Tonopah.


  1. The logo for APS evokes some type of renewable, colorful earth that makes you feel warm inside. How could the same people use their power and money to damage Arizona’s solar industry?

    The following propaganda is on the APS website: “Arizona Public Service has been named among the utilities that integrated the most megawatts and/or watts per customer of solar energy in the United States in 2014.”

    Good enough for me!

    Not really.

    The whole thing reminds me of the very first episode of the HBO show, “Boardwalk Empire,” where we learn that the same corrupt politician who vows to a women’s group (getting their first crack at electoral politics) that he will fight hard for the prohibition of alcohol. In a subsequent scene, we see the same corrupt politician laughing and drinking with his co-conspirators (including his brother, the sheriff) that they are going to make easy money bootlegging alcohol.

    I can envision same private scene playing out with the top APS execs, after the May 20 shareholders’ meeting.

  2. You are so right that those advertising pieces against Parker and Kennedy were racist and they were designed to stir up racism. And the reason the white candidates did not warrant the advertising dollars was that since the pro-renewable energy candidates were running as teams then all the APS dark money had to was attack one member of each team to take down both. And now their bought and paid for corporation commission is busy destroying the free market for renewables to favor the Koch-backed dirty industry.

  3. Yes, the Anderson Cooper event was well done. But yes, also, there was a whole lot of ass kissing going on and APS was the beneficiary of much of it.

    Mr. Cooper had a couple of very interesting things to say but his talk was only a few minutes. Then he took questions.

    Again, a couple of nuggets of insight. Like how Cooper disavowed his ancestors who owned slaves. And how he emphasizes recognition of the people who are hit by the tragedies he covers, rather than just referring to them as nameless victims.

    Overall, however, the event was more an exercise is ass-kissing (to power, including but not limited to APS) than it was an authentic mission to deliver democracy.

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