A Tom Steyer-led campaign to push renewable energy on Arizona electricity customers is hiring more convicted felons than originally anticipated, a discovery that endangers residents and violates state law.
A heated battle is underway to reform Arizona’s energy mix. Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona is an environmentalist campaign working on the ground to require utilities in the state obtain 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by 2030. To make this is a reality, the green energy campaign must amend the state constitution. Supporters are currently working to collect 225,963 valid voters’ signatures by July in order to have a referendum on the 2018 ballot.
However, not everything has run smoothly for the renewables campaign.
Financial reports in April revealed that Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona was solely funded by NextGen Climate Action, an environmentalist group founded and bankrolled by billionaire activist Tom Steyer. The renewable campaign received $957,000 — their entire haul — from NextGen. Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona was employing five convicted felons as signature collectors, a rival campaign found in May. The discovery revealed a violation of state law — Arizona prohibits convicted felons from circulating initiative petitions, with exception to individuals who had their rights restored.
The revelation might have been considered an isolated incident, but in another blow to the Steyer-funded campaign, an additional 27 felons have been allegedly discovered this week to be paid canvassers.
Arizonans for Affordable Electricity — a rival campaign that opposes the renewable proposal — filed a complaint to the Arizona secretary of state’s office on Monday asking for an investigation into the matter. Canvassers carry convictions that include 2nd degree murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, forgery and more, according to information obtained by Arizonans for Affordable Electricity.
“This is outrageous – the ‘Clean Energy’ campaign must believe it is above the law,” said Arizonans for Affordable Electricity spokesman Matthew Benson in a Monday statement. “Far from a few felons who ‘slipped through the cracks,’ as the campaign initially asserted last month, it is now clear they have dispatched dozens of individuals with a violent criminal history to collect the personal information from unsuspecting Arizona voters.”
The discovery brings the total number of felons hired by the renewables campaign to 32. An analysis by Benson’s group estimates that nearly five percent of all petition circulators are convicted felons. The news could be concerning for Arizonans, considering canvassers are typically sent to local neighborhoods to gather signatures and, in some cases, knock door-to-door. (RELATED: Tom Steyer Allegedly Using Convicted Felons For His Renewable Energy Initiative)
“We’re talking about convictions for crimes such as murder, kidnapping, aggravated assault, armed robbery, domestic violence and more,” Benson continued. “The energy campaign’s blatant disregard for state law represents a clear and present threat to public safety and the integrity of our state’s initiative process. We respectfully request that the Arizona secretary of state’s office investigate these serious claims and invalidate any signatures collected in violation of state law.”
If Steyer’s campaign is successful, the proposed mandate would place a heavy burden on utilities in the state. Arizona’s current renewable energy mandate is 15 percent by 2025. An increase to 50 percent by 2030 would ultimately force the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station — the country’s largest nuclear station and Arizona’s biggest source of clean energy — to shut down.
NextGen America did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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