Arizona House Democrat accused of harassment, custodial interference in ethics complaint

Nov 7, 2023, 11:53 AM | Updated: 11:58 am

The Arizona House minority leader submitted a formal ethics complaint against fellow Democratic Rep...

The Arizona House minority leader submitted a formal ethics complaint against fellow Democratic Rep. Leezah Sun on Nov. 2, 2023. (Arizona Legislature and KTAR News Photos)

(Arizona Legislature and KTAR News Photos)

PHOENIX — A Democratic Arizona lawmaker is in hot water with her own party for allegedly harassing city employees in Tolleson and interfering, possibly illegally, with a custody case.

House Minority Leader Lupe Contreras submitted a formal ethics complaint against Rep. Leezah Sun on Nov. 2. The submission included police reports and court documents.

“These incidents establish a pattern of behavior that not only reflects poorly on Rep. Sun but also on the House as an institution,” Contreras wrote in a letter to Rep. Joseph Chaplik, the Republican chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

Sun is a first-term legislator for District 22. Contreras is her seatmate in the West Valley district, which includes Tolleson, a small suburb between Phoenix and Avondale.

“This was a very difficult decision for everyone on our team because it involves a member of our caucus. But we believe the documented allegations are very serious and warrant an ethics investigation, and we believe in holding each other accountable for our behavior as public servants. It’s as simple as that,” Contreras said in a statement.

“Going forward, in a matter like this, which requires a formal process by the Ethics Committee, it’s best to let the complaint speak for itself.”

What is Rep. Leezah Sun accused of doing?

In his ethics complaint letter, Contreras cites reports about Tolleson employees filing a petition for an injunction against Sun.

After a May incident prompted Tolleson staff to contact police, Sun allegedly threatened to throw one employee off a balcony, according to the letter.

In the other incident mentioned in the complaint, Sun allegedly inserted herself into a custody case in which she had no involvement.

The case supervisor, Kristyn Alcott, said in a court filing that she was working on a custody transfer involving minor children in an Avondale Dairy Queen parking lot when Sun interfered. The children ended up staying with their stepfather instead of getting into their father’s car as had been ordered in court.

“In her court filing, Ms. Alcott describes Rep. Sun’s behavior as undermining and obstructing the judicial process and that her actions and comments were hostile, threatening and intimidating,” Contreras wrote in his letter to Chaplik.

In his statement, Contreras said the the custody case incident was brought to his attention by the House speaker’s office, which received information about it from a third party.

The ethics complaint letter says that if the allegations against Sun are true, she likely violated House Rule 1 by engaging in disorderly behavior and possibly committed a felony for custodial interference.

“Based on the foregoing, we request that the Ethics Committee immediately convene and investigate Rep. Sun’s actions,” Contreras concluded in his letter to Chaplik.

What could happen to Arizona Democrat after ethics complaint?

Per House Rule 1, Sun could potentially be removed from office following an ethics investigation and expulsion vote by two-thirds of the House.

She is the third House member referred to the Ethics Committee this year.

In April, Republican Rep. Liz Harris was expelled for letting a witness make wild accusations of bribery during a February hearing meant to be about election reforms.

In June, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton was censured after getting caught hiding Bibles that are kept in the House members lounge.

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Arizona House Democrat accused of harassment, custodial interference in ethics complaint