Arizona Corporation Commissioner, Bob Burns, has been on the receiving end of numerous awards for his work against wasteful spending in the state government. But, with a recent boom in water and energy interests in legislation, Burns may be walking on thin ice.
The Public Integrity Alliance, a non-partisan group that promotes integrity in government, noted the care Burns needs to take when dealing with these energy issues. Burns’ wife has a position on the board of directors for the Central Arizona Project, a position that PIA worries could sway Burns’ voting.
Rather than let him face public scrutiny for these votes, Tyler Montague, president of PIA, suggested that, when these issues come up, “[Burns] would have to recuse himself or explain how it wasn’t [a conflict of interest].”
While Burns has been heavily awarded for his work, PIA plans to pay close attention to the moves he makes during these legislative actions. Montague explained that his main concern is the huge amount of energy the CAP will use, something that should be taken into consideration regardless of the participants.
Montague explained his concerns:
That water project, as I understand it, has to pump a lot of water uphill and it is a huge user of power. In fact, the power station there, one of its main purposes, if not its founding purpose, was to provide power for that. So there is clearly a link there, and I think it could be a conflict. That is our position and we will be watching.
PIA has a history of non-partisan education about government issues, including their 2013 unveiling of reports of misbehavior by former Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne. Horne was investigated by the FBI for cheating in his 2010 election and was found liable for nearly $400,000 in illegal campaign contributions.
Montague and his group hope to keep the public educated about past, present, and future problems in the state government that could affect the future of Arizona’s citizens. While the group has chiefly criticized Republicans, Montague said, “I am a Republican and so (is) every board member of the Public Integrity Alliance. So we will go after anybody.”