Tom Steyer outsmarts himself in Arizona renewable energy push

There’s yet another push to move closer to 100% renewable energy in Arizona going on this year and, as usual, we can find billionaire liberal activist Tom Steyer working on it in the background. (This remains a constant source of ironic amusement since we’re talking about someone who made most of his fortune investing in fossil fuels.) An initiative funded by Steyer is pushing a ballot measure which would force the state to move to 50% renewable energy by 2030, far beyond their current target of 15% over the next seven years. In order to get this measure on the ballot, the group needed to collect a significant number of signatures, but Steyer’s team came through with flying colors, submitting far more than were required.

There was one little fly in the ointment, however. It turns out that many of the signatures were collected illegally. Oops. (Daily Caller)

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.

It’s not as if this was some sort of grassroots movement with a lot of support in Arizona to begin with. As the Daily Caller discovered, literally 99% of all the funding for Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona received came through one of Steyer’s other climate change organizations. So the only person to take a serious hit to the pocketbook was Steyer himself.

The law that Steyer’s people ran afoul of is one that’s common across most states. There are always rules about how ballot initiative or candidate qualification signatures are collected, who can sign and who can do the canvassing. There are also rules about if and how such signature collectors can be paid. I’ll be the first to admit that some of them are excessively restrictive and can discourage lesser known and poorly funded candidates from seeking office. (We have issues with that in New York.)

But the rule about disqualified felons doing the signature gathering is probably a reasonable one and this Arizona effort provides a fine example of why. Particularly given the number of forgeries they allegedly turned in so they could be paid, you should probably let your highly motivated volunteers take care of the task. Odds are they could have come up with enough of them just be canvassing heavily Democratic precincts around the state.

The sad part is that Arizona is one of the states where renewables can actually be used to great effect and if they simply let the state stay on its current path they would get there eventually. Arizona gets a lot of sun without too many cloudy days and they can generate a lot of solar power. If it’s affordable and reliable, people will be accepting of it and the free market would settle the issue for them. But this astroturfing effort by Steyer attempts to do the opposite of that and now he’s stepped on a rake.

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