Arizona lawmaker accused of sex remarks loses committee post - Tucson News Now

Arizona lawmaker accused of sex remarks loses committee post

Rep. Don Shooter (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Rep. Don Shooter (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Michelle Ugenti-Rita claims she was harassed by Don Shooter. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Michelle Ugenti-Rita claims she was harassed by Don Shooter. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (AP) -

The publisher of Arizona's largest newspaper on Friday joined a growing list of women who say a top Republican state lawmaker subjected them to inappropriate sexual comments or actions, allegations that led to his suspension from the chairmanship of a powerful committee.

Arizona Republic Publisher Mi-Ai Parrish wrote in a column online that state Rep. Don Shooter told her last year during a meeting in his office that he had done everything on his "bucket list," except for "those Asian twins in Mexico." Parrish is Asian-American.

[ANOTHER ACCUSER: Publisher says Arizona lawmaker made offensive remarks]

Other lawmakers, entertainment figures, businesspeople and media leaders have been accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct in the wake of allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Lawmakers facing such complaints in Colorado and Minnesota also were removed or suspended from their posts as heads of legislative committees this week.

In Arizona, Shooter would not comment about Parrish's column but has denied other allegations revealed this week.

[RELATED: Powerful lawmaker accused of sexual harassment at AZ State Capitol]

Republican House Speaker J.D. Mesnard suspended Shooter from heading the appropriations committee pending the results of an investigation. Though the Arizona Legislature doesn't return until January, committees Shooter sits on are meeting.

"Until the investigations have run their course, it's just not practical for him to be involved in that capacity," Mesnard said, adding he hoped they would be completed by January.

The speaker also said that because of the number and nature of the allegations, a "bipartisan sexual harassment investigative team" he appointed will hire an outside attorney.

Shooter is already the subject of an investigation launched by the House this week after a lawmaker accused him of repeatedly making unwanted advances.

[READ MORE: Arizona lawmaker cites sexual harassment by male colleagues]

Shooter denied the allegations from Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and accused her of pursuing an affair with a House staffer. Several other women - lawmakers, lobbyists and Parrish - have come forward with similar accusations since Ugenti-Rita gave a television interview that aired Tuesday, including allegations of sexually tinged comments or unwanted touching.

Shooter issued a statement earlier this week saying he requested an investigation, and "therefore I am unable to comment further except to provide my full support and cooperation." He has since referred questions to his attorney, who hasn't elaborated.

There also have been allegations that other, unnamed male lawmakers harassed women, and Mesnard acknowledged that "rumors are flying fast and furious" about who is possibly involved. He promised investigations of any formal complaints.

[WATCH: Mesnard talks to Dennis Welch about Shooter's suspension]

Mesnard appointed two House attorneys to lead an investigation into the claims. They will be joined by several staffers from the Democratic and Republican caucuses.

Parrish wrote that she initially brushed off Shooter's comment, chalking it up as "just another remark in a long, long list of offensive, obnoxious, ignorant, destructive things said to me and others by people with some power or sway."

But she said she now realizes "it wasn't OK. And it wasn't OK for me to be OK with it. For me to put up with it. To laugh it off, to excuse it, to use it as a cocktail-party tale."

[RELATED: Gov. Ducey says more need to be done to end sexual harassment at the Capitol]

Parrish serves as president and publisher of the Arizona Republic and previously held the same jobs at The Kansas City Star and The Idaho Statesman. She has twice served as a Pulitzer Prize juror, is a longtime member of the Asian American Journalists Association and serves on several boards, including of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University.

Shooter wielded considerable power as head of the House Appropriations Committee and is known around the Capitol as a politically incorrect jokester who threw booze-laden parties in his office on the last day of legislative sessions.

The Yuma lawmaker was elected to the Senate in 2010 and led that chamber's appropriations committee before moving to the House in 2016.

Minority Democrats and the state's most powerful business group, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, have called for him to resign.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Politics]

The investigation could lead to a formal ethics probe by the House, which could expel him with a two-thirds vote for "disorderly behavior."

Asked if the Shooter allegations indicate a culture problem in the chamber, Mesnard said it is a broader issue.

"I would submit to you that we have a culture problem in the House, in the state and in the country," he said. "This isn't just unique to Arizona. This is happening all over the place, whether you're talking Hollywood or newsroom studios.

"Clearly we have probably tolerated things in the past that we shouldn't have and people are standing up, and rightly so," Mesnard said.


Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Aunt sues nephew for his half of $1.2M lottery winnings

    Aunt sues nephew for his half of $1.2M lottery winnings

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 9:34 AM EDT2018-07-18 13:34:21 GMT
    (CNN)(CNN)
    (CNN)(CNN)

    Barb Reddick and her nephew Tyrone MacInnis each won $611,319.50, but Reddick says she's suing her nephew for his half. "He was lucky, but not for a half a million dollars."

    Barb Reddick and her nephew Tyrone MacInnis each won $611,319.50, but Reddick says she's suing her nephew for his half. "He was lucky, but not for a half a million dollars."

  • Chandler man says HOA is forcing him to remove bat cave

    Chandler man says HOA is forcing him to remove bat cave

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 11:14 PM EDT2018-07-19 03:14:36 GMT
    Thursday, July 19 2018 11:03 AM EDT2018-07-19 15:03:47 GMT
    A homeowners association in Chandler is telling Steve Pate he has to get rid of his bat cave; it quite literally houses bats, and the association calls it a “nuisance.” He believes he’s doing the neighborhood a favor. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)A homeowners association in Chandler is telling Steve Pate he has to get rid of his bat cave; it quite literally houses bats, and the association calls it a “nuisance.” He believes he’s doing the neighborhood a favor. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
    (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    A homeowners association in Chandler is telling Steve Pate he has to get rid of his bat cave; it quite literally houses bats, and the association calls it a “nuisance.” He believes he’s doing the neighborhood a favor. 

    A homeowners association in Chandler is telling Steve Pate he has to get rid of his bat cave; it quite literally houses bats, and the association calls it a “nuisance.” He believes he’s doing the neighborhood a favor. 

  • Hells Angel member & murder suspect extradited to AZ after fleeing U.S. 15 years ago

    Hells Angel member & murder suspect extradited to AZ after fleeing U.S. 15 years ago

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 2:38 PM EDT2018-07-18 18:38:01 GMT
    Wednesday, July 18 2018 4:00 PM EDT2018-07-18 20:00:52 GMT
    Paul Esicheid (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 and Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)Paul Esicheid (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 and Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

    He was a stockbroker by day and a dangerous member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang by night. And he was on the run from the law for years. But now, one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives has been extradited to Arizona. 

    He was a stockbroker by day and a dangerous member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang by night. And he was on the run from the law for years. But now, one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives has been extradited to Arizona. 

  • Local newsMore>>

  • Tucson police investigating stabbing at midtown convenience store

    Tucson police investigating stabbing at midtown convenience store

    Thursday, July 19 2018 1:06 PM EDT2018-07-19 17:06:05 GMT
    Police investigate a stabbing incident at a midtown Circle K. (Source: Tucson News Now)Police investigate a stabbing incident at a midtown Circle K. (Source: Tucson News Now)

    Detectives with the Tucson Police Department are investigating an incident at the Circle K at Ft. Lowell and Alvernon.  

    Detectives with the Tucson Police Department are investigating an incident at the Circle K at Ft. Lowell and Alvernon.  

  • TFD offering $10,000 reward for info on construction fire

    TFD offering $10,000 reward for info on construction fire

    Thursday, July 19 2018 1:03 PM EDT2018-07-19 17:03:06 GMT

    The fire was so hot and bright it lit up the morning sky. That is what one student saw across the street from the construction site fire from yesterday. Danny lives at the University Vista apartments. He’s a grad student at the U of A. He saw the fire and raced to get his car. It was too late, the fire was so hot and dangerous that he was not able to get it. His car was one of a dozen cars that had damage from the fire. He tells us, the back bumper a...

    The fire was so hot and bright it lit up the morning sky. That is what one student saw across the street from the construction site fire from yesterday. Danny lives at the University Vista apartments. He’s a grad student at the U of A. He saw the fire and raced to get his car. It was too late, the fire was so hot

  • APP EXTRA: Out of control overtime?

    APP EXTRA: Out of control overtime?

    Thursday, July 19 2018 8:22 AM EDT2018-07-19 12:22:32 GMT
    (Source: Tucson News Now)(Source: Tucson News Now)
    (Source: Tucson News Now)(Source: Tucson News Now)

    The Tucson Police Department has fewer officers than it has had in the last 30 years. The problem is causing slow response times and is costing the city millions.

    The Tucson Police Department has fewer officers than it has had in the last 30 years. The problem is causing slow response times and is costing the city millions.

Powered by Frankly