AP (NEW)

Arizona House expels GOP lawmaker over unproven accusations

Apr 12, 2023, 2:02 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona House of Representatives on Wednesday expelled a Republican lawmaker who organized a presentation making unsubstantiated accusations that a wide range of politicians, judges and public officials of both parties took bribes from a Mexican drug cartel.

Rep. Liz Harris, a prominent supporter of discredited election conspiracies, was kicked out of the Legislature in a bipartisan vote after the presentation by an Arizona insurance agent. The lawmaker’s ouster came a day after the House Ethics Committee determined Harris had engaged in “disorderly behavior” in violation of the chamber’s rules.

The committee’s report said Harris knew the person she invited to a legislative hearing in February would accuse her colleagues of criminal activity, that she took steps to hide it from House leaders ahead of time and then misled the committee investigating her actions.

“This comes down to the integrity, in my opinion, of this institution and us as leaders,” said Rep. David Livingston, a Republican who voted to expel Harris. “This is not personal.”

Harris, who was sworn into her first term in January, did not speak ahead of the expulsion vote. Immediately afterward, she carried boxes to her car, placed them in her trunk with the help of a handful of supporters and left. She called the ethics report “a lie.”

“God knows the truth,” Harris said, according to video recorded by a reporter for KPNX-TV. “This was an example of how you need to toe the line. If you don’t toe the line, this is what happens.”

The vote against Harris comes less than a week after Tennessee Republicans voted to expel two black Democrats, a decision that made that state a new front in the battle for the future of American democracy. But the Arizona vote did not carry the same partisan and racial overtones, with widespread and bipartisan condemnation for Harris’s actions.

Harris organized a daylong hearing of the House and Senate elections committees in February. At the end, a Scottsdale insurance agent, Jacqueline Breger, gave a 40-minute presentation alleging without reliable evidence that two women working on behalf of Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel used fraudulent mortgage documents to launder money to a range of officials.

Arizona Republican lawmakers have given wide leeway for people claiming to be election experts to share unsubstantiated or disproven claims in hearings at the Capitol. But GOP legislative leaders raced to distance themselves from Breger’s claims and pin blame on Harris.

Before she was elected to the Legislature, Harris led a door-to-door canvassing effort searching for proof of fraud following the 2020 presidential election. Her effort drew scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division, which warned about potential voter intimidation.

There was little public discussion before the expulsion vote. Republican Rep. Alexander Kolodin said Harris “made an error in judgement,” but expelling her would send the wrong message.

“It will be perceived as setting the precedent that if you rock the boat too much, you will be expelled,” said Kolodin, who voted against expulsion.

All Democrats and about half of Republicans voted to expel Harris in a 46-13 vote. She’s the first lawmaker to be expelled in Arizona since Rep. Don Shooter was quit the following year after old sex crimes charges came to light that likely would have led to his expulsion.

AP (New)

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near...

Associated Press

Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve in Yuma

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near the California border.

13 hours ago

Associated Press

Former Arizona grad student convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 shooting of professor

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A former University of Arizona graduate student was convicted Tuesday of fatally shooting a professor on campus in 2022 after his expulsion. Murad Dervish, 48, was convicted by a Pima County Superior Court that began deliberating in the morning. Dervish was being tried on seven felony charges including first-degree murder in […]

7 days ago

Associated Press

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty to felony charges in Arizona election interference case

PHOENIX (AP) — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty Tuesday to nine felony charges stemming from his role in an effort to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss in Arizona to Joe Biden. Ten others, including former Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, forgery and […]

7 days ago

Associated Press

Closing arguments set in trial of University of Arizona grad student accused of killing a professor

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday in the trial of a former University of Arizona graduate student accused of killing a professor on campus two years ago. Murad Dervish, 48, faces seven felony charges including first degree murder in the death of Thomas Meixner, 52, who was shot nine times near […]

8 days ago

Associated Press

Arizona man sentenced to natural life in prison for the 2017 death of his wife, who was buried alive

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2017 death of his wife, who was buried alive in a hand-dug grave near their home, authorities said. Seven years after the murder, David Pagniano decided to plead guilty before his trial was scheduled […]

9 days ago

Associated Press

Man suspected of shooting 6-month-old son in hostage standoff near Phoenix apparently killed himself

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — A man suspected of shooting his 6-month-old son multiple times after taking the boy and his mother hostage was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in the rubble of a suburban Phoenix home that caught fire during a SWAT standoff, police said Saturday. The boy was reported in critical […]

9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Arizona House expels GOP lawmaker over unproven accusations