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Opposing groups battle over Arizona clean energy initiative

Posted at 10:21 PM, Jul 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 01:21:56-04

A clean energy group working to get an initiative for renewable energy sources on the November ballot says they are being hindered by an opposing group backed by utility companies. 

"Dirty tricks, dirty bribes, dirty politics," said Rodd McLeod with Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona. 

Tricks, which McLeod says, are attempting to halt the groups clean energy initiative.

One that would force utility companies like APS to get half of their energy from renewable sources by 2030 or be forced to pay fines.

"They are trying to buy off people; they are bribing them," McLeod said. 

Mcleod says a group backed by APS has done everything they can to stop the issue from ever making it to the November ballot.

To get that far, 200,000 verified voter signatures are needed by July 5. The battle between the two groups has raged over the last few months with mudslinging and accusations. 

First came calls about criminal signature collectors. Those who oppose the initiative say they were hired by McLeod and Clean Energy due to poor background checks. 

In the call to members of the public, it states the criminal collectors may steal the signer's identity. 

"We know that they've had at least forty four folks registered who are convicted felons," said Matthew Benson with Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, the group backed by APS. 

McLeod admits a few of the 500 signature collectors did slip through their background checks. 

But, McLeod says Benson's group is now using a new tactic to keep them from crossing the finish line. 

"APS is now bribing our petition circulators, offering them thousands of dollars to leave the state," said McLeod. 

And they are not denying the bribes.

In fact, Benson said there's nothing illegal or dirty about it. 

"Look this is a competitive marketplace for petition circulators, there's a lot of demand for these folks and the companies routinely recruit from each others workforce," said Benson. 

Team leaders were allegedly offered $7,500 each to call it quits on gathering signatures.

Lower level collectors were offered $5000 as shown in text messages provided by McLeod. 

McLeod says despite the opposition's efforts, they've successfully collected more than double the required signatures and plan to drop them off at the Secretary of States office Thursday morning.