Cronkite News – Arizona PBS

Arizona Rep. Don Shooter expelled from House over sexual harassment

PHOENIX – The Arizona House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to expel Rep. Don Shooter following the recommendation of Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard.

The House had been scheduled to vote on censuring Shooter until the release of a letter, written by Shooter, purporting to support the victim of sexual assault. Mesnard moved to expel Shooter, citing the letter as another violation of the House’s harassment policy.

“Rep. Shooter’s letter represents a clear act of retaliation and intimidation, and yet another violation of the House’s harassment policy, so I will be moving to expel him from the House of Representatives immediately,” Mesnard said. The vote to expel was 56-3, with Shooter among the no votes.

A nearly-two-month investigation into allegations against Shooter concluded that the Yuma Republican had “created a hostile working environment for his colleagues and those with business before the Legislature.”

“I believe what is proportionate to this situation is stripping him of his committees, (he) has no responsibility on Appropriations, certainly not as chairman, but not even as a member, not on the others, and a formal censure,” Mesnard said Wednesday after the report was released.

Shooter had asked Mesnard to initiate the investigation after several women accused him of improper conduct. In a statement, Shooter wrote, “This has been a humbling and eye-opening experience for me. I look forward to working to repair relationships and serving my constituents and our great state.”

Phoenix attorney Craig Morgan, who headed the investigation with a team from the law firm Sherman and Howard, credited the House for how it handled the situation, saying it “did an amazing job at putting together a team of individuals to look at these allegations as soon as they were made aware of them, and to make the determination that it made sense to have an outside-independent group look at what occurred, and make the determination whether the policy has been violated.”

Both Mesnard and Morgan said the House appropriately responded to the allegations, but Mesnard said the House may change the way it handles such investigations in the future.

“We need to incorporate a behavioral code-of-conduct type of issue into our ethics committee, into the House rules, and we will be doing that,” said Mesnard, who represents Gilbert, Chandler and Sun Lakes.

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