- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - The full Arizona Corporation Commission has rejected an effort by Commissioner Bob Burns to hire an attorney to analyze how outside interests may be influencing utility regulators’ decisions.

Burns and the other four commissioners sparred for more than an hour Thursday over his effort. It was prompted by his probe of the state’s largest electric utility over its possible political spending in the 2014 election of two new commissioners.

Burns hired Maryland utility lawyer Scott Hempling early this month for a maximum fee of $95,000. The other commissioners voted Thursday to block the payments.

Burns called the vote a disguised effort to prevent him from doing his constitutional duty to oversee regulated utilities. The other members repeatedly said there was no problem of undue influence at the commission.

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