Thursday, February 1, 2018

Majority Whip Townsend will move to expel Rep. Don Shooter from AZ House

Howard Fischer posted this news,Townsend to seek Rep. Shooter’s expulsion if he doesn’t resign, at the Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required).

A top Arizona House Republican wants Rep. Don Shooter to resign within 24 hours or she’ll seek to expel him from the chamber.

Majority Whip Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, called for the immediate resignation of Shooter, a Yuma Republican who broke the House sexual harassment policy and whose “repeated pervasive conduct” created a hostile work environment for other representatives, lobbyists and others.

“Please give this House the dignity it deserves and step down,” Townsend said on the House floor Wednesday afternoon.

If Shooter does not resign by Thursday, then Townsend vowed to make a motion to expel him, an act that would take a two-thirds majority vote among the 60 representatives in the House.

I hope that the result of this is a statement loud and clear that we will not tolerate this type of behavior,” Townsend said. “If we don’t do that and we allow this to continue, it sets a very dangerous precedent that there are certain things you can get away with, and get a slap on the hand.”

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said Tuesday he’ll call for a formal censure, which requires a majority vote of the House. A censure becomes part of the official House record, he said, a black mark that will follow Shooter for the rest of his career. Mesnard plans to hold the vote on Thursday afternoon.

Townsend said that doesn’t suffice.

“I believe the censure is a slap on the hand. I think that it’s not enough,” she said. “The gentleman is still in the building, and the potential of more of the same type of behavior as is shown in the report, that it is a pattern. If we have an established pattern, that means that it could continue, and I’m not willing to allow that.”

Stay tuned. Here is some of the background.

House investigation finds “credible evidence” of sexual harassment

Previously, Rachel Leingang, also at the Arizona Capitol Times, reported that Rep. Shooter sexually harassed women, created hostile work environment, investigator finds.

In their conclusion, investigators Craig Morgan and Lindsay Hesketh said Shooter broke the House harassment policy, and his “repeated pervasive conduct” had created a hostile work environment.

“Although we could not conclude that all of the allegations made against Mr. Shooter occurred, or if they did, also violated the policy, there remain several credible allegations evidencing that Mr. Shooter has engaged in a pattern of unwelcome and hostile conduct toward other members of the legislature and those who have business at the Capitol,” the investigators wrote.

The investigation began after Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, named Shooter as one of the men in the legislature who had harassed her. She told KTVK (Channel 3) political reporter Dennis Welch that Shooter asked about her chest in her office and came uninvited to her room with beer at a work conference, where she didn’t answer the door.

After Ugenti-Rita came forward, eight other women told stories of inappropriate, sexually charged comments and unwanted touching.

House Minority Leader Rebecca Rios said Democratic House members are still reviewing the report, but an initial reading of it “paints a detailed and disturbing picture of pervasive sexual harassment and sexism on the part of Rep. Shooter.”

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