The connection between Arizona Public Service, Arizona State University’s fundraising arm and a secretive “dark money” political action group came under scrutiny this week after tax filing details were uncovered by a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

The story from the Sunlight Foundation uncovered a $181,000 donation given to the ASU Foundation by the APS Foundation, the nonprofit group of Arizona’s largest utility, and a subsequent $100,000 grant awarded by the ASU Foundation to “Save Our Future Now,” a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. “Save Our Future Now” went on to spend millions to defeat candidates for Arizona’s Corporation Commission who supported solar companies, and advocated for candidates backed by traditional utilities, like APS.

An Arizona Republic story published today further detailed the network of contributions and raised questions about the influence of ASU Foundation Board Chairman Bill Post, a former chief executive of Pinnacle West Capital Corp., the parent company of APS.

ASU Foundation Vice President and Chief of Staff John Skinner said in an email that, as a matter of policy, he could not discuss internal processes when asked about the procedures to award the grant to Save Our Future Now.

“In the interest of clarity, however, we’ve gone to great lengths to make it abundantly clear the connections insinuated in the Sunlight Foundation blog simply don’t exist,” Skinner said in an emailed statement. “Our mission is patently clear — to advance Arizona State University and the value and impact of higher education. Our contribution to Save Our Future Now, specifically designated for education advocacy, is consistent with our mission. Those are the facts.”

AZCIR collected the public tax documents of each foundation in addition to a listing of independent expenditure statements from “Save Our Future Now.” Search through the documents below or click on individual files to explore the fillings.


EDITOR’S NOTE: AZCIR’s Executive Director Brandon Quester received a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2014, which was passed through the ASU Foundation. That grant was for alumni of the Cronkite School and was designed to spur innovation in newsrooms. You can read about that here.

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