Arizona House releases findings of ethics investigation into lawmaker
PHOENIX — The Arizona House Ethics Committee released the findings of an investigation into state Rep. David Cook regarding allegations concerning an affair and bribery.
In February, the committee announced it had hired Ballard Spahr LLP to assist its probe into the Republican lawmaker from Globe who had been accused of conducting an inappropriate romantic relationship with Anna Marie Knorr, a former lobbyist for an agriculture trade group.
A separate accusation claimed Cook had bribed Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb with campaign contributions to prevent the tax debt seizure of Knorr Farms, a property owned by Knorr and her former husband in 2018.
Regarding the allegations of an affair, the findings stated that the evidence — including handwritten letters — demonstrates a close, romantic relationship between Cook and Knorr.
“Although Representative Cook and Ms. Knorr both deny a romantic relationship, the evidence demonstrates that they have a close personal relationship, and documents and witness statements are consistent with a close relationship of a romantic nature” the report stated.
While the investigation concluded that many facts are still in dispute concerning the bribery accusations, the findings stated that Sheriff Lamb did call off the scheduled seizure after receiving a call from Cook.
Although various statements from Cook and Lamb are in conflict, neither deny speaking on the phone days prior to the scheduled seizure.
“… It is undisputed that Representative Cook called Sheriff Lamb days before the planned seizure, that Sheriff Lamb called off the scheduled seizure, and that no seizure has yet occurred,” the report stated.
“Sheriff Lamb stated that he learned of the planned seizure from Representative Cook. Although Representative Cook admits that he called Sheriff Lamb, Representative Cook denied that he called Sheriff Lamb about Knorr Farms and denied knowing about Knorr Farms before he called Sheriff Lamb.”
The investigation’s findings also addressed Cook’s use of alcohol, for which he had been penalized by the House after an extreme DUI arrest in 2018.
Although he was advised by counsel not to answer inquiries regarding his alcohol use, the findings identify letters he allegedly wrote to Knorr in which he referenced alcohol as a weakness.
Witnesses also claimed Cook had been under the influence of alcohol while conducting official business at the governor’s office — allegations which Cook denied.
The report also stated that Cook had obstructed the investigation from its outset, and to this day will not relinquish pertinent documents.
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 Feb. 4 by Kevin Cavanaugh, a retired police officer and former deputy chief for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.
The complaints were released to the public record Feb. 5.
Lamb previously 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 Associated Press contributed to this report.