Arizona Senate’s top GOP, Dem leaders issue joint call for Navarrete to resign

Aug 9, 2021, 1:48 PM | Updated: Aug 10, 2021, 8:11 am
Otoniel "Tony" Navarrete (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)...
Otoniel "Tony" Navarrete (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)
(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX – The highest ranking Arizona state senators from each party united on Monday to call for Sen. Tony Navarrete’s resignation in the wake of his arrest last week on charges of sexual conduct with a minor.

Republican Senate President Karen Fann and Minority Leader Rebecca Rios issued a joint statement that called the seven felony charges against Navarrete, a Democrat, an “untenable distraction from his role as an elected official.”

“In light of the serious and disturbing charges against Senator Navarrete, we are joining together to call for the Senator’s immediate resignation,” the statement said.

The statement came after Republican Sen. Kelly Townsend said she was filing an ethics complaint and urged Gov. Doug Ducey to call a special session so a vote to expel Navarrete can take place.

“The senator also now faces a Senate ethics complaint, and no one benefits from any further delay in his ultimate resignation,” Fann and Rios said.

“Child abuse and sexual misconduct of this kind is intolerable. We hope that justice will be ultimately served and pray for healing and support for all victims.”

Senate Ethics Chairwoman Sine Kerr said she received Townsend’s ethics complaint, notified Navarrete and recommended an investigation to the committee members.

“He should resign from the Senate,” Kerr, a Republican, said in a statement. “In the meantime, the Senate Ethics Committee will follow its process.”

Navarrete is in his second term as a senator in District 30, which encompasses parts of Phoenix and Glendale. Before that, he served one term in the House.

He was arrested Thursday night and booked on three counts of sexual conduct with a minor (class 2 felony), two counts of sexual conduct with a minor (class 6 felony), one count of attempted sexual conduct with a minor and one count of molestation of a child.

Colleagues from both parties have been unanimous in calling for Navarrete to step down since the graphic details of his alleged crimes were made public in court documents released Friday. Ducey has called for Navarrete’s resignation, calling the allegations “abhorrent.”

With both parties united in their desire to oust Navarrete, his departure from the Senate appears to be a matter of when, not if.

The alleged crimes first occurred in 2019 with a boy who said he was 12 or 13 at the time, according to the probable cause statement.

Navarrete was released Saturday morning after posting bond, which had been set at $50,000. He is scheduled in court for a status conference on Thursday and preliminary hearing on Aug. 16.

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Arizona Senate’s top GOP, Dem leaders issue joint call for Navarrete to resign