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Senate Ethics Committee dismisses complaint against Arizona lawmaker

Eddie Farnsworth, middle (AP Photo/Bob Christie)

PHOENIX — The Senate Ethics Committee has dismissed a complaint against an Arizona lawmaker who cut a speaker off and ordered others removed during a state Senate hearing earlier this month.

The committee ruled Friday that Republican committee Chairman Sen. Eddie Farnsworth did not violate Arizona’s Open Meeting Law when he cut off immigration advocacy spokesman Hugo Polanco and then ordered Polanco and other activists to leave the hearing.

Additionally, the committee said that Farnsworth had the authority to remove public members from the meeting “for failing to adhere to proper decorum.”

Immigration advocacy group Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) filed the complaint last Tuesday, alleging Farnsworth “committed a gross violation of ethics.”

The complaint called for the committee to investigate and reprimand Farnsworth for his behavior.

Polanco was speaking about SCR 1007 and called the controversial sanctuary cities proposal “a return to the racism, divisiveness and hate of SB1070.”

Following Polanco’s initial comments abut the proposal, Farnsworth interrupted him.

“There’s nothing racist about anybody up here,” Farnsworth said. “So I’m going to caution you – testify, but you don’t need to be vitriolic.”

Polanco pressed on, noting the current ban on sanctuary policies and urging the panel to “reject this racist, divisive and hateful legislation.”

Farnsworth cut him off and was forced to suspend the hearing when activists began shouting: “This is a racist law and you’re not allowing the people to speak.”

After a lengthy recess where security removed the activists, the committee approved the measure on a 4-3 party-line vote.

“We feel that it’s important that our legislators that are elected by the people listen to the community,” Gomez said.

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