Legal action cites conflict of interest
There’s no way to put lipstick on this pig. It’s a Category 5, GOP intra-party, cringe worthy embarrassment.
Arizona Corporation Commission Chairman Susan Bitter Smith is no novice to the political arena. Among her many posts, she was elected as a Scottsdale City Council member and served as the city’s Vice Mayor. She was an elected member of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District Board and has been a congressional candidate — albeit unsuccessful.
On Monday her career path took a decided nose dive as Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a Petition for Special Action in the Arizona Supreme Court to remove Bitter Smith from office. The Petition is the result of an ongoing investigation alleging she broke the state’s conflict of interest laws by working as a lobbyist for companies the commission regulates.
Brnovich contends Bitter Smith, 60, is ineligible to hold office due to her ongoing conflict of interest as a registered lobbyist and paid executive for an association of cable companies regulated by the same Arizona Corporation Commission she chairs.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation in September after receiving a formal complaint against her.
The AG’s 48-page Petition can be read here, and includes this Conclusion which specifies “Bitter Smith’s three categories of conflicts, each of which is sufficient by itself to make her ineligible to hold office as a Corporation Commissioner under § 40-101. These conflicts are her “official relation[s]” as an authorized lobbyist for two affiliates of Cox; her “official relation[s]” through SWCCA (Southwest Cable Communications Association), to Cox, Comcast, Suddenlink, and Time Warner; and her “pecuniar[y] interest[s]” in those companies because of her $150,000 annual salary as the Executive Director and designated lobbyist for SWCCA. Because she had these conflicts at the time of her election, Ms. Bitter Smith cannot remedy them and remain in office.”
The motion asks for immediate action, although the Supreme Court could send it to a superior court for review.
Since Bitter Smith has filed for reelection, AZ Republican Party chairman, Robert Graham has now called for her to step down. There has been no activity on her Interim Report for the 2015 – 2016 Election Cycle.