Arizona House votes to expel Rep. Don Shooter

- The Arizona House of Representatives has voted to expel Rep. Don Shooter of Yuma, after a report ordered by legislative leaders of his own party showed he engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment toward women.

Shooter is believed to be the first state lawmaker in the U.S. to be voted out of his seat since the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct began last fall. Other legislators nationwide have resigned or been stripped of their leadership posts after being accused of misconduct.

Shooter voted against the resolution, which was introduced by House Speaker J.D. Mesnard Thursday.

"Can't go back to the past," said Shooter, while he was on the floor of the State House. "I can't change it, but I can change the future, if given the opportunity."

Prior to leaving the floor, Shooter was seen doing a "mic drop". He did not stick around for his now-former colleague's comment, during the vote to expel him.

"I cannot read to you, on the floor, what my seat-mate said about me and my wife," said State Rep. Darin Mitchell (R). "It's simply that obscene."

"I'm for everyone that this is just the beginning for doing the right thing, and to eradicate sexual harassment from the workplace," said State Rep. Athena Salman (D).

"You guys need to knock it off!" said State Rep. Becky Nutt (R). "What we're doing here is important!"

The fallout comes months after State Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R) said Shooter propositioned her for sex and repeatedly commented on her breasts. State Rep. Ugenti-Rita initially complained about Shooter's behavior in mid-October, and was present for the vote Thursday. She voted yes, but did not make any comments. She appeared visibly emotional during the house floor session.

In the weeks following State Rep. Ugenti-Rita's accusation, the woman then working as the publisher of the Arizona Republic newspaper and a number of others also complained about inappropriate behavior and comments by Shooter.

Former newspaper publisher Mi-Ai Parrish, who is Asian-American, wrote in a column online that 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."

Shooter had been facing censure, but Republican House Speaker J.D. Mesnard moved for a vote to expel him after the embattled lawmaker sent a letter to fellow lawmakers Thursday. It alleged the investigative report that Mesnard commissioned into Shooter's and Ugenti-Rita's behavior whitewashed accusations against another House member that were far worse than what Shooter is accused of doing.

Shooter would not name the lawmaker.

In addition to the letter, Shooter reportedly made other questionable comments before the vote.

"I heard that Mr. Shooter had come in, and was going down the hallways, sort of popping into places, saying 'It's a good day for a hanging', or something to that effect," said State House Speaker Mesnard. "I continued to plead with him to resign, to not put us through this. He felt, for whatever reason, that this had to happen, unfortunately, and so, we made the difficult decision."

In addition, House Speaker Mesnard reportedly confiscated a weapon that Shooter had, due to the comments Shooter made. Shooter, however, was not seen as a threat by Mesnard, who said it was done out of an abundance of caution.

Shooter told The Associated Press that he deserves to be punished but did nothing to justify expulsion.

"I've had two, three months to think about this. I did wrong, I deserve a censure," he said. "But I'll tell you this. I was sent here by the people of District 13. And to the best of my knowledge, I've never betrayed that trust, never, never. Not for monkey business, not for contributions, not for influence, not for power, not for anything.

"And by God, they're the ones who should throw me out if they want to throw me out. And they may," he said.


Governor Ducey has issued a statement on Shooter's expulsion.

"I support the decision of the House of Representatives. They did the right thing today. This should send a strong message: Everyone should be treated with respect, and there is no room for this behavior anywhere."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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