PHOENIX — New campaign filings this week revealed that a controversial green-energy ballot proposal has received significant financial support — but only from a single climate group based in San Francisco . . . and not one cent from families in Arizona.
The ballot proposal, which would force the state’s utilities to obtain half of their energy from renewable sources, is tied to California billionaire Tom Steyer.
According to new campaign-finance reports at the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, the campaign received more than $950,000 from a San Francisco-based political group called NextGen Climate Action that focuses its election-year work on climate change.
Steyer, a Democratic mega-donor, founded the group in 2013. One of its first efforts was helping to elect Hillary Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe as governor of Virginia. It reported more than $9 million in independent expenditures last year to help Democratic candidates.
Steyer — who also is running a multimillion-dollar campaign to impeach President Donald Trump — bankrolls NextGen America and its affiliated groups.
Other than the $950,000 in contributions from NextGen Climate Action, the campaign committee responsible for the ballot proposal didn’t receive one cent in support. Steyer’s group provided $750,000 in direct contributions, $65,680 in in-kind contributions for staffing and overhead, and $141,666.67 in in-kind contributions for petition gathering. Not one person in Arizona provided support for the group or its efforts.
Matthew Benson, a spokesman for an affordable energy coalition fighting the initiative, said that the proposed mandate would mean “higher electricity costs and reduced power reliability for Arizona families.”
“Every Arizona voter should be alarmed by these campaign spending reports, which detail how a California billionaire is sparing no expense in his bid to bring costly, California-style energy regulation to Arizona,” Benson said in a press release.
The green-energy proposal has faced bipartisan wrath in recent months.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle passed legislation in March, signed by Governor Doug Ducey, to protect Arizona ratepayers in the event that Steyer’s proposal is implemented. State Representative Vince Leach said at the time that the legislation “sends a strong and an unmistakable message to those out-of-state people that want to come in. We just tell them: ‘Arizona’s constitution is not for sale.’”
Other opponents, like State Senator Sylvia Allen, warned that the “renewable” mandate would devastate the economies in their districts and that — because of the Voter Protection Act — repealing the mandate would be incredibly difficult, even if Arizonans suffered from unforeseen consequences.
“If we ever get in a situation which we wish we could go back, we won’t,” Allen told her colleagues. “We’ll be stuck with the higher costs of our utilities. And we’ll be stuck with higher taxes.”
Many business organizations have come out against the proposal, too, including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Arizona Manufacturers Council, which released a statement three weeks ago calling on the California donor to “take [his] risky scheme somewhere else.”