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Judge: Arizona Constitution Protects Commissioner Burns’ Right To Subpoena APS

Commissioner Bob Burns
(Photo courtesy of Arizona Corporation Commission)
Commissioner Bob Burns

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daniel Kiley said he legally has the right to decide whether Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Burns may act alone and demand Arizona Public Service (APS) release its political campaign contributions, even though fellow commissioners oppose it.

In court Monday, Kiley rejected APS’ attorney Mary O’Grady’s argument that Burns is powerless to act without the consent of the full commission. At the very least, O’Grady said, Burns should be forced to wait until the commission votes on APS’s request for a utility rate hike.

The judge acknowledged the state constitution protects Burns’ right to subpoena a corporation, especially when elected officials and publicly traded corporations are involved.

Burns wants to determine how much funding APS, and its parent corporation Pinnacle West, donated to commissioners’ campaigns and which members should be excluded from voting on the rate hike.

His colleagues voted Monday to have the commission pay for their own defense attorneys' fees, but not for Burns' attorney.

“I’m on offense. They're on defense,” he tried to reason. His best guess for the logic, he said, “The history, possibly the policy of the commission, in the past has been to defend defense, but not necessarily offense.”

APS initially challenged his actions as premature and Kiley agreed, telling Burns to seek permission from his colleagues.

The four other members rejected his request and, at one point, Chairman Tom Forese classified the dispute as a political matter beyond a judge’s scope.

Kiley rejected that notion and said the case is an issue needing constitutional interpretation which places the case squarely before his court.

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Holliday Moore is a native Arizonan and veteran journalist who joined KJZZ’s news team in January 2017.Moore graduated from Arizona State University after double majoring in mass communications and marketing/management. She spent her first two decades reporting for television news, beginning in small markets and working up to congressional correspondent in Washington, D.C., for a political news service.Family commitments in Arizona brought her back to the Southwest, where she covered legislative and court beats for Albuquerque’s KRQE-TV and the infamous Four Corner Manhunt as KREZ-TV’s managing editor.Back home in Phoenix, she developed ABC15’s “Democracy Project,” now instituted at all Scripps’ news stations nationwide. Her work garnered “Best Practices” recognition by the Poynter Institute and the prestigious Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism.Her television reports, from sports to cultural issues, earned her multiple Emmy and Associated Press nominations, including a Rocky Mountain Emmy for her Hopi Partition Land Act coverage.As she started a family, Moore started her own media production agency, producing magazine-style travel stories for the Emmy-winning Arizona Highways Television show while working part time for a Valley radio station. She is convinced radio is where visual, sound, and print are merging through deeper storytelling. In her relatively short time with radio network affiliates, she has won four Edward R. Murrow Awards and multiple nominations from other professional news societies.Moore now teaches advanced broadcast writing to the next generation of reporters at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where a high percentage have gone on to receive national awards for their work in her class. She enjoys being back home near childhood friends and sharing the beautiful Arizona desert with her husband and young son.