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Arizona Corporation Commission to consider ethics investigation after complaint against new member

Arizona Corporation Commissioners could vote publicly Tuesday on whether to launch an ethics investigation of a new member who used to be a lobbyist for a gas utility.

Commissioner Kevin Thompson drew the complaint over his January trip to New York City for meetings with financial institutions that invest in Arizona utilities.

Thompson put on Facebook that the message he delivered in New York was that Arizona will loosen its regulatory grip.

Thompson is accused of breaking an ethics rule against meeting with industry representatives with interests affected by Commission decisions. And he is being called on to not vote in a pair of cases before the Commission in which utilities are seeking customer rate increases.

Thompson denied wrongdoing in a response letter.

He wrote that roughly $1,200 in trip expenses were paid out of his office travel account.

And Thompson denied having talked to anyone in New York about anything pending before the Commission.  

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.