Arizona Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit against Tom Steyer and a renewable energy campaign he supports for launching, what Brnovich claims, is a defamatory campaign against him.
Filed on Wednesday, the lawsuit names Steyer and Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona as defendants. Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona — which has benefited from millions of dollars in donations from Steyer — is campaigning to require Arizona electric utility companies derive half their power from renewable energy sources by 2030. The ballot proposal is officially known as Proposition 127.
Brnovich’s lawsuit is in response to Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona’s campaign against him. The renewable energy group has aired attack ads against him, claiming he “bailed out” the state’s largest electric utility company by wording the Proposition 127 ballot language in a way, it argues, puts the proposal in a bad light.
Originally written by the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, Brnovich added language to the ballot measure that said utility companies would have to meet the renewable energy mandate “irrespective of cost” if the proposal passes.
While Proposition 127 supporters have criticized him for the change, the attorney general argues his office acted accordingly, wording ballot language in a way that is most informative to voters. Brnovich has maintained that the changes are “factually accurate.”
“We always want to err on the side of giving voters as much as information as possible, especially consumers,” the Republican lawyer said to the Arizona Republic. “[W]hen you add a provision to the constitution that starts mandating that 50 percent of that energy has to come from different sources and non-nuclear sources, that will have an impact on the cost.” (RELATED: Tom Steyer One Step Closer To Dictating Arizona’s Energy Industry)
As the renewable energy proposal has lagged in the polls, Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona (CEHA) has seemingly shifted its campaign from promoting Proposition 127 to attacking Brnovich, who is running for re-election this year. CEHA has aired attack ads calling Brnovich “corrupt” and have openly called on Arizona voters to boot him from office in November.
“At some point, I think enough is enough, and just because I’m a ‘public figure’ doesn’t mean you get to lie,” Brnovich said, adding he has “lived here my entire life, so when people see my name with really inflammatory words or defamatory words, it affects not only me, it affects my entire family.”
The fight over Proposition 127 has become the costliest ballot measure campaign in Arizona history, with both sides spending around $40 million. NextGen Climate Action, a group founded and funded by Steyer, has supplied millions in support of the measure. Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electric utility, stands against the proposal and has funded millions to defeat it.
Arizona is not the only state where Steyer has dropped millions of dollars to push renewable energy mandates. The billionaire environmental activist has led similar campaigns in Michigan, Nevada and elsewhere across the country.
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