14 January 2019

Arizona Republic Reporter Dustin Gardiner: Why We Need Scandals

"Scandals often have a limited shelf life for many members of the public," Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group said. "However, when similar scandals arrive time after time, it really is incumbent on elected officials to fix the root problem."

After a year of scandals, Arizona lawmakers still haven't created rules for conduct
Dustin Gardiner, Arizona Republic  
Published 6:00 a.m. MT Jan. 13, 2019 | Updated 2:36 p.m. MT Jan. 13, 2019]
"It was early 2018 and the cloud of sexual scandals and allegations hanging over the Arizona Legislature was heavy.
Former Rep. Don Shooter had just been expelled over accusations that he harassed multiple women with lewd gestures and words — the first expulsion in 27 years. 
And former state Sen. Steve Montenegro’s bid for Congress was imploding with revelations he exchanged flirtatious text messages and photos with a junior-level Senate staffer.
Whispers about other lawmakers also spread through the Capitol.
That’s when the Legislature’s top two leaders decided it was time to act, they said, for the public’s sake.
State Senate President Steve Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, both R-Chandler, said they would appoint a bipartisan committee to write a code of conduct with rules outlining behavior expected of lawmakers.
But nearly a year later, no such rules for lawmakers have seen the light of day even with the next group of 90 legislators set to take office Monday.
 
. . . The committee Yarbrough and Mesnard talked about creating never even held a meeting. . . 
It’s now up to incoming House Speaker-elect Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, and Senate President-elect Karen Fann, R-Prescott, to decide whether to go there.
Bowers said he thinks the Legislature should have some sort of code, but he's apprehensive. He said he briefly reviewed Mesnard's draft and hasn't decided whether to adopt it for staff.
He's also apprehensive about applying it to lawmakers.
"I don't know about instituting a one-size-fits-all code," Bowers said. "I don't want to prescribe every little action around this place. It might get busy. . .
 
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