A recent article  from the Phoenix New Times on September 6, 2019, reported that an employee from the Arizona Public Service Electric Company (A.P.S.) had submitted a complaint to the Arizona Corporation Commission alleging that the powerful utility entity had engaged in “political bullying.”

The piece further described how APS encouraged its employees to:

  • Vote against Proposition 127 last year. That proposition, if it passed, would have required the state to rely on renewables energy sources for half of Arizona’s energy output by 2030.
  • Support candidates to the Arizona Corporation Commission who were friendly to APS.

The person submitting the complaint said that APS:

  • “Put out emails, posters, meetings and other announcements [sic] advising employees to Vote No because it was not in the best interest of APS.”
  • Told…”employees …. by Senior Management and Leadership who to support, what to support, and which candidates are sympathetic to causes that support APS’s political agenda and financial goals.”
  • Pressured African American employees more than others.

If these allegations prove true, it would make APS, an organization that is not shy on spending millions to defeat unfriendly propositions or unsupportive political candidates, one of several corporate organizations across the country whose leading executives have made it their business to influence their employee’s political decisions.

That is wrong.

This is corrupt.

That is UnAmerican.

That is, unfortunately, because of the 2010 Citizens United Decision, probably legal.

According to a piece in the Harvard Law Review, employers (and unions,) thanks to the landmark Supreme Court Ruling, are within legal bounds to try and influence their employees to subscribe to their political agenda.

Thanks to the ruling, there appear to be no protections for workers who are coerced by their employers to do what they want them to do politically.

Several Democrats in Arizona running for office thinks what APS and other businesses engaged in these political activities and poor business practices should stop and legal protections for workers against this indoctrination needs to be enacted.

2020 Maricopa County Attorney Candidate Robert McWhirter

Robert McWhirter

“If there’s hard evidence of coercing political opinions out of employees, I would consider investigating this from the office of the Maricopa County attorney. I review the statutes related to voter coercion and voter fraud.”

“Leaving this aside we are talking about a basic standard of democracy. We can’t allow the rich and the powerful to coerce a democracy.”

“We live in a constitutionally defined democratic republic.  Sure, we are not a direct democracy where every citizen votes on every issue.  But, we all democratically vote to select our decisionmakers.   In this, we are all supposed to have an equal vote and voice.”

“The problem with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United is it approved the rich and powerful having megaphones.  Rich corporations being able to force its employees to do political work is yet another example of amplifying the rich.”   

“But the point of democracy is to create a society of government looking for the common good, not the selfish interest of loudmouths with megaphones.”

“In ancient Athens, as our Constitution’s framers knew, your right to speak in the Assembly manifested your citizenship.  Isegoria, the equal right to speak in assemblies was democracy.  The ideal assembly speaker (rhētōr ) was an “honest, ordinary citizen.”

“Voice and vote are the same things.”

“Somewhere along the line, we seem to have forgotten that the vibrancy of America – the very essence of why we are the greatest nation on earth – is because we all have a voice in a free and open society where everyone has the same chance to make the most of themselves.”

“Corporations paying employees to amplify their voice is un-American.”


2020 Congressional District Five Candidate Joan Greene

Joan Greene

“This has every dirty behind the scenes one would imagine when it comes to large corporations who will do anything to protect their financial interests.”

“This is just the crack and everyday new elements are coming out. Voter influence, people dying, taxpayer money being used to purchase politicians and the list goes on.”

“We must get the dirty money out of politics and vote in those who refuse to be bought.”

2020 Congressional District Eight Candidate Michael Muscato

Michael Muscato

“Is anyone surprised APS bullies employees into supporting their agenda? They give millions of dollars to politician’s campaigns so they’ll do their bidding whenever they want them to. Sure, some of it may be altruistic, but if you paid attention to the APS hearing last week, you’d have heard more of it was a cynical way of buying influence and ensuring higher rates, killing other competing technologies, avoid ing being held accountable the deaths of customers, and for obscene political campaign contributions.”

“Take my opponent Debbie Lesko, for example. Instead of APS-funded PACs and executives giving her more money than any other Congressional candidate, why not use that money to hire more staff to ensure senior citizens aren’t dying from heatstroke? Why not use that money to encourage energy efficiency? Why not use that money to help develop alternative energy plants in tribal areas of the state? Why not use that money on cultural awareness and diversity training for APS managers? Instead of spending money to do the wrong things, APS should get back to doing the right things. After all, being a constitutional monopoly has responsibilities. Being a good citizen is one of them.”

2020 Congressional District Eight Candidate Bob Musselwhite

Bob Musselwhite

“Arizona Public Service is a privately held company that has a monopoly on electrical service in many areas of Arizona.”
“The Corporation Commission regulates any monopoly to prevent charges from reaching “whatever the market will bear”.  Charges should be cost, plus a reasonable profit for essential service such as electricity.”
“I believe the Corporation Commission and the Legislature as needed should do the following:
1.  Forbid any candidate running for the Corporation Commission from receiving contributions or support in any way from any organization that is going to be regulated by the Corporation Commission.
2.  Require that charges on each bill not related to the direct provision of electrical services such as political campaign contributions and lobbying be shown on each customer’s bill and be optional as to payment by the customer.
3.  Limit the right of way leases on any publicly owned right of ways such as cities, to five years, so that customers are able to have alternative companies compete to supply services such as electricity on the publicly owned right of ways.
4.  Take other steps necessary to increase competition, and in Arizona provide and encourage alternative means of generating electricity such as solar.
5.  The objective of all of these efforts is to hold the cost down for the consumer.
Competition serves the customer.”
2020 Legislative District 11 State Senate Candidate Linda Patterson

Linda Patterson

“Recently, utility regulators were correct in holding the Arizona Public Service Company leaders “feet to the fire” regarding the improprieties it has made toward the general public of Arizona. The parent company, Pinnacle West also was exposed to scrutiny.”
“Arizonans deserve to know that public utility companies are serving the needs of most of its customers. Individuals conscientiously pay their bills for the services they use. Unfortunately, their needs come second to the priorities of a company who inhumanely shuts off their power and spends millions of dollars to fund campaigns for their own self-interests. In addition, entering into the conversation regarding teacher raises and contributing millions to the campaigns of those running for the Arizona Corporation Commission are factually illustrated and wrong.”
“Arizona has a reputation and history of graft and corruption. Dirty Money, special interests and even the party in power continue this legacy. What gets lost in this noise are the rights and will of the majority of Arizonans. It is time to vote for state legislators who will stand up for constituents they serve. Many believe that the election in 2020 is the ultimate opportunity to save our democracy from further improprieties. Let’s all make the commitment to elect politicians who see “public service” for what it is…a noble calling to serve the common good for the majority.”
Since the release of the Citizens 2000 Decision, many organizations like APS have attempted to manipulate their employees into following their political agendas.
Remember when the Popular Vote Loser appeared before a packed crowd of union workers in Pittsburgh earlier this year.
Well, those union workers employer, Royal Dutch Shell, gave their employees a choice:
Show up at the Presidents Rally or take an unpaid day off.
With most of these people working paycheck to paycheck, what choice did these union workers have?
In the 2018 election cycle, Republican U Haul supporters of Greg Stanton’s opponent, Steve Ferrara, had some of their employees attend a townhall with the Party of Lincoln candidate. This allowed the Republican to claim on social media (complete with pictures) that he was a friend of the working class.
In 2012, workers for Murray Energy were required to attend (without pay) a rally for Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney.
These and other instances of Employers shoving their political views down their worker’s throats is troubling.
Legislation to stop this form of indoctrination at APS and other organizations should be introduced at the local, state, and federal level, and passed.
instances of political coercion and harassment by employers at APS and other organizations should be investigated and prosecuted if found to be true.
If employers can not promote a religious agenda at the workplace, they definitely can not champion a political one.
People need to let their public servants know they want this corruption done away with and vote those out who will not.
Featured Image from Stop APS Corruption