Counsel hired for ethics probes into Arizona lawmaker accused of affair

Feb 12, 2020, 12:00 PM

PHOENIX – The Arizona House Ethics Committee announced Wednesday it hired outside counsel to investigate to two complaints filed against a lawmaker accused of having an affair with a lobbyist.

A team from Ballard Spahr LLP led by attorney Mark Kokanovich will assist the committee’s probe into allegations made recently against Rep. David Cook.

The Republican from Globe has been accused of carrying on an inappropriate romantic relationship with AnnaMarie Knorr, a lobbyist for an agriculture trade group. Cook sits on two committees that hear agriculture-related bills.

A separate complaint alleges that Cook bribed Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb with campaign contributions to prevent the tax debt seizure of property owned by Knorr and her husband in 2018.

Lamb has said he halted the seizure when he learned of it from Cook, but he never discussed a campaign contribution. Rather, he said, he wasn’t aware of the pending seizure and wanted to first come up with protocols for property seizures before proceeding.

The complaint about the alleged relationship with Knorr was filed Jan. 29 by Janell Alewyn, a constituent in Cook’s Legislative District 8.

The bribery accusation was made by Feb. 4 by Kevin Cavanaugh, a retired police officer and former deputy chief for the Pinal County Sheriff’s.

The complaints were released to the public record Feb. 5.

In January, Knorr was put on leave from her job with the Arizona Western Growers Association after a media reports revealed details from intimate letters between her and Cook.

Cook and Knorr have said they’re friends and their relationship did not cross ethical boundaries. The lawmaker has sponsored four bills promoted by Knorr’s group, according to the ethics complaint.

Republican Rep. T.J. Shope, chairman of the Ethics Committee, temporarily recused himself from the panel because he and Cook represent the same legislative district.

Cook has previously been penalized in the House after an extreme DUI arrest in 2018. A committee he was set to chair was disbanded, and he was removed from the House Public Safety Committee.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Counsel hired for ethics probes into Arizona lawmaker accused of affair