Commentary

Governor Accepts Susan Bitter Smith's Resignation; AG Says Case Now "Moot"


Don't let the doorknob hit you on the way out.

That's the message to former Arizona Corporation Commission Chairwoman Susan Bitter Smith from both state Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Governor Doug Ducey. 

In a letter dated December 21, Ducey accepted Bitter Smith's resignation, which she had made effective January 4, one day before the Arizona Supreme Court was to take up a request from Brnovich to oust her.

Ducey thanked her for her "dedication and service" to the regulatory body, and wished her "all the very best in all of your future endeavors."
Governor Ducey's Letter Accepting Bitter Smith's Resignation
In other words, you don't have to go home, lady, but you can't stay here. 

What about Bitter Smith's "hope," which she expressed in her recent resignation remarks, that, "the Supreme Court will see this matter through and provide guidance to others on the important issues presented"?

Well, Brnovich drove a wooden stake through that hope on Tuesday, asking the Supreme Court to allow the AG's Office to withdraw its petition, filed November 30, which argued that Bitter Smith had violated an Arizona conflict of interest law because she was a paid lobbyist for the cable giant Cox Communications and the head of a local trade group for cable companies.
Since all of these cable companies bundle telephone service with their other services, and since the AZCC regulates phone services, ergo, Bitter Smith is ineligible to sit on the AZCC, and was so, even as she ran for it in 2012, according to the AG.

Since Bitter Smith has resigned, there are no more issues in play, says the AG in the filing.

"With Ms. Bitter Smith’s resignation, this case is moot and no longer merits exercise of the Court’s original jurisdiction," states the motion, adding, "Moreover, this case is not capable of repetition...and there is no need for an advisory opinion, given this Court has previously decided two cases under A.R.S. § 40-101."
AG's Motion to Declare Case Moot

So it's time for Bitter Smith to clean out her desk, if she has not done so already, because, as the Lizard King once sang, "This is the end."

Brnovich, a Republican, moved against fellow Republican Bitter Smith, when presented with a complaint from Chandler attorney and independent watchdog Tom Ryan

"This isn't getting into a gray area, or someone skating close to the line," Brnovich stated during the press conference announcing his action against Bitter Smith. "This isn't something we're doing willy-nilly...we're doing this because we believe we have to."
Bitter Smith's Resignation Remarks

Politicians in this state of both parties should take note: A citizen presented the AG with a solid case against a public servant in September, and that pol was gone by Christmas.

And yes, if you're doing something wrong, it could happen to you. Because Brnovich is just crazy enough to do the right thing. And he ain't playing favorites. 

As for Ducey, will he make a political appointment? Or will he do as Ryan has suggested and fill Bitter Smith's position with a former judge, who merely would serve out Bitter Smith's term, which is over at the end of 2016?

My bet's on the former, but I'm willing to be surprised.
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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons