Ryan Randazzo, The Republic | azcentral.com
Anyone hoping to read utility regulator Bob Stump's text messages is out of luck.
The judge in the public-records case filed a judgment Tuesday declaring there is no need to re-inspect Stump's phone for deleted messages, rebuffing a request from the Checks and Balances Project, and closing the case.
The Checks and Balances Project is a clean-energy advocacy group that has received funding from California-based SolarCity Corp. through a non-profit. SolarCity is the largest rooftop solar provider in the state and nation. The group has been fighting to access Stump's deleted texts for more than a year.
The judge in the case, along with a former judge hired to review the messages, determined that the messages Checks and Balances is seeking are not public records or, in many cases, no longer exist. Checks and Balances wanted to re-inspect the phone, but Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner said no.
"Based on the evidence submitted, the court concludes as a matter of law that the Attorney General’s forensic examination of the phone was an adequate search," Warner wrote in his judgment. "Neither the fact that it did not find requested documents, nor that plaintiff’s expert may have better forensic tools, makes the Attorney General’s search inadequate."
Stump sent tens of thousands of messages on his phone, regularly deleting them. He asserts none met the definition of a public record.
Checks and Balances specifically wanted to review 3,598 messages sent to 18 individuals from mid-2014 to early 2015. Those people include officials at Arizona Public Service Co. and from a political group that helped get two Republicans elected to the commission.
Stump's phone was seized last year by the Attorney General's Office in connection with an investigation into a former commissioner, Gary Pierce.