Arizona Senate Ethics panel to investigate senator accused of harassment

The Arizona Senate Ethics Committee voted Feb. 4 to open an investigation into allegations of workplace harassment against newly sworn-in Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers.

The panel of three Republicans and two Democrats spent more than an hour in executive session discussing the allegations made by Rogers' former assistant before unanimously voting to investigate further.

Rogers was accused by her former legislative assistant of berating him, making comments about his weight and other issues. Michael Polloni Jr., also accused the state senator of taking his belongings and breaking an Eagle Scout plaque.

In a written response, Rogers called the allegations "a complete fabrication by an outgoing, brand new employee who worked only one official day for the state of Arizona after the swearing in of senators."

Rogers was sworn in on Jan. 11, but Polloni was working for her on Jan. 3 when he tested positive for the coronavirus. His complaint said he was fired on Jan. 13.

Rogers also said the complaint contains no allegations that she either broke the law or violated Senate ethics rules.

In his detailed, six-page ethics complaint against Rogers, Polloni said she repeatedly asked him to work while he was on sick leave, demanded that he illegally do campaign work for her on state time and removed and damaged some of his belongings from his office.

He also said Rogers doubted that he actually had the virus.

Polloni also alleged that Rogers almost hurt his hand when she slammed a door and that, during a tirade, she yelled at him so closely that he could feel spit hit his face.

Ethics complaints can lead to discipline or expulsion for a member found guilty of violations by the full Senate or House.