An Open Letter to Barry Goldwater, Jr., Chairman Of T.U.S.K.

Dear Barry:

I hope this letter finds you well. I write in reference to your role as paid spokesman for TUSK (“Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed”).

You are the son of the man who tended the seeds of the conservative movement, and the country is forever in his debt. An extraordinary legacy is enshrined in your name.

You are also the face of a self-described Republican organization dedicated, as you say, to “the American way.” This dedication has manifested itself in vigorous opposition to Republican footsoldiers in what you call “a war on solar.”

TUSK’s tactics in this “war” are an incitement to hearty debate and an occasion to ponder TUSK’s devotion to the conservative principles you and I hold dear.

These principles include (in your words) “choice” and “the free market” and opposition to “monopolies.” Republican politicians deemed “anti-solar” by TUSK fail to be animated by these verities, and TUSK sees fit to remind fellow Republicans how unfit for office many Republicans can be.

I would like to ask a series of questions which will, I hope, provide greater insights on TUSK, to the benefit of conservatives and the energy industry at large.

If TUSK is interested in “energy competition” and “the free market,” as it purports to be, why not forswear all solar subsidies? The energy sector is shot through with subsidies, as I am well aware. But how is the solar industry’s lingering dependence on government largesse compatible with a sincere devotion to free-market principles, to which TUSK claims to adhere?

You frequently warn Republicans that they are weakening themselves electorally due to positions you deem “anti-solar,” risking losses to Democrats. Yet TUSK has spent not one cent opposing a Democratic politician or candidate. Would you agree that you are tearing a page from the Democratic playbook when you say some Republicans’ views on solar would harm “seniors, churches, and schools” (perhaps the Little Sisters of the Poor, too)?

Surely TUSK, by attacking Republicans as “anti-solar,” is not intending to inflict the damage it wishes to forestall. I suppose it is possible that TUSK thinks it is saving the Republican Party from itself by working to defeat Republicans.

Do you remember State Rep. Mike Turner, of Oklahoma? He is a Republican subjected to TUSK’s tough love. His opposition to subsidies renders him an improper TUSK Republican, which means he has failed conservatism generally. In a TV spot opposing his candidacy, TUSK asks, “Will he turn on conservatives?” I know TUSK would perish at the thought, Barry.

The Huffington Post wrote approvingly of TUSK’s involvement in Turner’s race, which makes sense, given its charitable concern for Republicans putting Republican victories at risk.

Another wayward Republican is Doug Little, of Arizona. Little is running for a seat on Arizona’s powerful utility commission, which I chair: the Arizona Corporation Commission. Little has been subjected to over $200,000 in spending by TUSK, which aims to warn conservative voters that Little is a “liberal.”

Little is actually the most conservative Republican in the race, but what’s a disagreement among friends – even if President Obama’s Organizing for Action activists attended the TUSK rally accusing Little of Obama-style liberalism?

Your dad, like JFK, always appreciated irony. Do you find it ironic that out-of-state solar company executives – fond of President Obama’s energy agenda, with business before the Commission – are painting as liberal a conservative who, you claim, lacks integrity because he is the beneficiary of alleged “dark money” spending from a utility (Arizona Public Service) with business before the Commission?

In a larger sense, should Arizonans be concerned about out-of-state solar companies (many from California) spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence the election of regulators who determine what Arizonans pay for electricity?

Or are you comforted by the fact that the media have entirely ignored TUSK’s spending thus far? Indeed, the solar industry has never spent so much on a Commission race, but it appears the liberal media we both bemoan have finally given a Republican organization a pass.

Speaking of spending: Barry, I’m no campaign finance expert, but I note that TUSK’s campaign filing with the Arizona Secretary of State lists $561 in contributions but $227,624 in spending. Is your math fuzzy, or is TUSK spending “dark money”? Also, why don’t you enumerate TUSK’s spending on the protestors it pays to show up at rallies?