Despite enjoying millions of dollars from a Tom Steyer front group, a campaign aiming to increase Arizona’s renewable energy mandate is fumbling.
Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona is a campaign group working to increase Arizona’s renewable energy portfolio to 50 percent by 2030 — a dramatically sharp increase from its current target of 15 percent by 2025. In order to accomplish this, the group must submit enough valid signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. After launching a massive canvassing effort, Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona submitted 480,464 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office on the July 5 deadline — more than twice the number required.
However, the validity of the signatures were called into question almost immediately.
An investigation by Arizonans for Affordable Electricity — a campaign that opposes the renewable mandate proposal — discovered thousands of signatures that appeared forged, lacked proper documentation or were outright fraudulent. They filed a lawsuit with the Arizona Superior Court on July 19, claiming the clean energy group only submitted 106,441 valid signatures — less than half the required amount to qualify for the ballot.
The push for more renewable energy appeared to take another hit.
Arizonans for Affordable Electricity confirmed to The Daily Caller News Foundation that 20,021 signatures were gathered by circulators who hold felony records. Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona used at least 85 circulators who were convicted felons and never had their rights restored. Under Arizona law, felons are barred from working as canvassers — making any signatures collected by them null and void.
“For months, we warned Tom Steyer and the phony ‘Clean Energy’ campaign he’s bankrolling that they had registered dozens of individuals with felony criminal records to collect signatures, a violation of state law. We identified these felons by name and called out their crimes of violence, ranging from second degree murder to vehicular homicide, domestic violence and aggravated assault,” Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, said in a statement obtained by TheDCNF.
The developments come as an expensive blow to Steyer, a billionaire environmentalist who has bankrolled the statewide initiative through his national climate change organization.
NextGen Climate Action, a group founded and funded by Steyer, has made up nearly all of Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona’s funding. Financial records reveal NextGen has donated around $4.5 million to the initiative, making up 99.99 percent of all donations. Fewer than 50 people personally donated to the clean energy campaign, with the largest individual contribution in the second quarter totaling $25.
“The hubris and complete disregard for Arizona law exhibited by Tom Steyer and his initiative campaign is sickening,” Benson continued. “This is indicative of the rank abuse of elections procedures and rampant fraud exhibited by Tom Steyer and his initiative campaign up to this point. If Arizona elections laws and regulations are more than words on paper, this cannot stand.”