Arizona Republican Solar Advocates Punked With Pro-Obama Logo Used in News Release

A news release published for a pro-solar-energy Republican group features a fake, pro-Obama logo for the group that was created by its critics.

Tuesday's post about the news release on Rose Law Group's website would appear to erase any doubt that TUSK, fronted by Jason Rose and Barry Goldwater Jr., has been grafted to President Obama's non-profit Organizing for Action.

More likely, the fake logo was picked up inadvertently as a convenient illustration for the news release.

In other words, TUSK and Rose Law Group got punked.

See also: - Barack Obama's Non-Profit Group Takes Sides in Arizona's Solar-Energy Battle - An Epic Battle Between Solar Firms and Power Utilities Could Leave One Side Unplugged

TUSK, short for Tell Utilities Solar can' be Killed, is a separate entity from Rose Law Group. But that's sort of a distinction without a difference, since TUSK represents the interests of, and is funded by, rooftop-solar installation companies, and those companies are also major clients of Rose Law Group, a law firm founded by Jason Rose's wife, Jordan. TUSK and Jordan Rose's clients have been fighting proposals by Arizona Public Service that would essentially pay less money to people with solar panels for the electricity they generate. APS claims solar users aren't paying their "fair share" of grid costs.

The Arizona Corporation Commission is expected to hold public hearings on the issue this fall, followed by a vote on the APS proposals. As New Times reported last week, President Obama, through the OFA, has weighed in on Arizona's solar debate with a call for supporters to send a message to the Corporation Commission through another left-wing, pro-solar group.

Enter the conservative Western Free Press, which published an August 23rd article about OFA's efforts on the Arizona solar issue that sported the fake logo. We're not sure how the Western Free Press ended up with the logo, but we know it was created by critics of TUSK.

Obama supporters should recognize that the cartoon TUSK elephant, (which, of course, symbolizes the GOP), is superimposed over the circular, red-white-and-blue, flag-themed Obama campaign button and logo, which is also OFA's logo. The effect is subtle, given that the TUSK elephant also displays flag stripes, but becomes obvious once you catch it.

For the critics, getting the opposition to mistake its own logo for an Obama campaign button is a pretty good anti-PR coup. (At least, we think the use of the logo was unintentional. We put in a call to TUSK to find out, and we'll let you know what they say.)

And there's another absurdity in the TUSK's news release: The new poll it touts.

The Phoenix Business Journal picked up this poll and ran with its TUSK-promoted conclusions without any critique. But we found the poll, which appears to show high support for solar energy and low support for APS' net-metering proposals, to be something south of fully credible.

The poll was conducted by Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies, who did not return our phone message this morning. Three hundred Maricopa County residents were contacted on August 20 and 21, a fifth of them by cell phone. One striking result of the poll was that when asked which source of energy respondents would most want to encourage, 67 percent said "solar power," while the next highest energy source to be encouraged was "nuclear," at 10 percent.

To some extent, the poll misrepresents the actual makeup of Maricopa residents, recording that 53 percent among the 300 respondents have a bachelor's degree or higher, when polls usually show that figure is more like 29 percent. It also skews much younger than a similar poll in March by contacting twice as many people aged 18-34.

Only 5 percent of respondents said they'd like to encourage the use of natural gas, even though natural gas is seen by experts as key to the country's energy future -- and as a vital backup for future solar systems. Only 7 percent, supposedly, want to encourage what's called the low-hanging fruit of the energy problem: energy-efficiency efforts.

Yet perhaps the weirdest result of the poll is when it asks respondents if they've heard of certain entities or groups, and whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the groups.

Despite the torrent of support for solar in the energy-source encouragement question, the poll shows only 11 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the Palo Verde Nuclear Plant, while 16 percent have an unfavorable opinion of "solar companies."

That's a stat you probably won't find in any news release.

UPDATE: Looks like the use of the logo wasn't intentional. A few minutes ago, and about 15 minutes after we left a message for TUSK, the logo disappeared from the news release.

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