Arizona Lawmaker Expelled Over Sexual Harassment Claims

PHOENIX (CN) – The Arizona House of Representatives voted Thursday to expel Rep. Don Shooter after an investigation found he engaged in sexual misconduct.

The decision came months after Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita said Shooter, a Republican from Yuma, repeatedly commented on her breasts and propositioned her for sex.

Ugenti-Rita, also a Republican, said Shooter professed his love for her and knocked on her hotel door at a conference in New Orleans with a six-pack of beer. On another occasion he left a bottle of tequila at her office, with a note containing lyrics by country singer Kenny Chesney.

He was also accused of harassing other colleagues, as well as lobbyists and staffers.

Shooter was suspended in November after the allegations surfaced.

Before the vote Thursday, Shooter allegedly popped into his colleagues’ offices and said, “It’s a good day for a lynching.”

Out of concern that his comments amounted to a threat, law enforcement was called and a gun that Shooter kept in his office was removed from the premises.

On the House floor, Shooter acknowledged that he had said and done “stupid things” in the past.

“And I stood up, I apologized to those that I hurt that were legitimate,” Shooter said. “I can’t change the past, but I can change the future if I’m given the opportunity.”

House members voted 56-3 to remove Shooter, who voted against his own expulsion.

An investigation conducted by a Phoenix firm made public Wednesday found many of the allegations made against the lawmaker were credible, and that his actions were a violation of the House’s harassment policy.

Shooter had initially faced censure, but House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, a Republican, moved for his expulsion after Shooter sent a letter to fellow lawmakers challenging the findings of the report.

In a statement before the vote, Mesnard said he would move to expel Shooter because the letter represented “a clear act of retaliation and intimidation, and yet another violation of the House’s harassment policy.”

Shooter is one of several legislators who have recently resigned or been forced out of office due to sexual misconduct allegations.

“This should send a strong message: Everyone should be treated with respect, and there is no room for this behavior anywhere,” said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in a statement.

The Arizona House has not voted to expel one of its members since 1948, when Sidney Kartus and Frank Robles were expelled for disorderly behavior.

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