Arizona Republicans will breathe a sigh of relief when Kevin Thompson and Nick Myers join the ranks of the Corporation Commission in January, expanding the GOP majority to 4-1.
Why? Because Republican Commissioner Jim O’Connor has consistently voted with Democrats to push California-style, Green New Deal energy policy and drive up costs for Arizonans. For the past two years, since Mr. O’Connor joined the commission, he has bucked the grassroots and turned his back on Arizonans by supporting the very policies he promised to oppose.
Before diving into Mr. O’Connor’s record, let’s remember how he came to power.
In 2020, Jim O’Connor became the success story of the year for the Arizona Republican Party after winning a write-in campaign, and subsequently being elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission.
No small feat, of course. But behind every successful campaign is a team of dedicated volunteers and activists. Mr. O’Connor needed 6,600 write-in votes to make the general election ballot — he received more than 20,000 in Maricopa County alone. Without the rapid mobilization of the party’s base, it might have been nearly impossible for Mr. O’Connor to gather the number of signatures he needed.
What someone says on the campaign trail doesn’t always translate into what they do as an elected official. In the case of Mr. O’Connor, there was no follow-through on the promises he made to the GOP grassroots and Arizona voters.
If you browse his campaign website, Mr. O’Connor told Arizonans he would fight “job-killing green energy mandates” and work “tirelessly to save you money.” Mr. O’Connor ran on a platform of cutting government red tape and protecting Arizona citizens from higher utility rates.
Actions speak louder than words. Look no further than Mr. O’Connor’s voting record.
Despite claiming to be an advocate for ratepayers, Mr. O’Connor joined Democratic Commissioners Sandra Kennedy and Anna Tovar to deny ratepayers a refund for their bill. Instead, he approved an amendment to the plan from Tuscon Electric Power Company to use over-collected funds — approximately $12.4 million — to fund the Commission’s energy efficiency programs.
Dollars taken right out of the pockets of hardworking Arizonans to fund government programs.
Remember when Mr. O’Connor said he would also fight green energy mandates?
In 2021, Mr. O’Connor rubber-stamped Arizona Public Service Company’s (APS) Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) Plan, which forced APS to invest up to $15 million annually in solar installations. Ultimately, ratepayers — hardworking Arizonans — will foot the bill for that investment.
Following the closure of the Navajo Generating Station, and the future closures of the Cholla Generating Station and Four Corners Power Plant, the Navajo Nation has asked the Corporation Commission for nearly $145 million to be paid out to the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, and surrounding communities. Dubbed the ‘Just Transition Agreement’, the reality is that there is nothing just about using ratepayer dollars to subsidize one group over another.
Unfortunately, Mr. O’Connor has signaled support for the agreement, so if you see your utility bill go up in the future, you know who to blame.
With Republicans like Mr. O’Connor, who needs Democrats to usher in Green New Deal policy and turn Arizona into California? The success story of the Republican Party has turned out to be the proponent of the Democratic agenda on the Arizona Corporation Commission.