PHOENIX - The state's top business group is calling for the resignation of a powerful Republican state lawmaker who has been accused of inappropriate sexual comments or actions by several women.
Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry spokesman Garrick Taylor said Friday that Rep. Don Shooter should step down. He said that's what's best for the institution.
House Speaker J.D. Mesnard also suspended Shooter from his role as chairman of the powerful appropriations committee on Friday. He said an ongoing investigation into numerous allegations made it impossible for him to serve in that job.
The actions came as the publisher of Arizona's largest newspaper, Mi-Ai Parrish, joined a growing list of women who say Shooter subjected them to inappropriate sexual comments or actions.
"It's outrageous that you're sitting in someone's office at 10:00, doing business with an attorney sitting next to you, and someone would say that," said Parrish, who detailed an encounter with Shooter, during a meeting in his office.
"He was explaining that he was very much an independent thinker, that he had spent his career as a person who held his own council, and that he had, in fact, done everything on his bucket list except that one thing," recounted Parrish. "I said, 'so, tell me Senator, what one thing on your bucket list hadn't you done?' He said, 'those two Asian twins in Mexico.'"
Parrish noted she is an Asian American woman.
Shooter says he asked for the investigation and can't comment further.
Statement from J.D. Mesnard:
"I have suspended Representative Shooter's responsibilities as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee pending the results of the investigation into the allegations against him. He will not be taking any budgetary meetings, chairing hearings, or engaging in any budget discussion or any duties related to Appropriations until the investigation has concluded. Representative Shooter is entitled to - and will receive - a fair and thorough investigation into his behavior before the House determines what action is needed, but I don't believe he can properly fulfill his obligations as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee until that investigation has concluded. Additionally, due to the number and nature of the allegations against him, the House's bipartisan sexual harassment investigative team has decided to employ the use of outside investigators moving forward. I support their decision. The investigative team will reconvene on Monday to determine what next steps are appropriate in that regard and move as quickly as possible to reach a conclusion."
Statement from House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios:
"It's vitally important that the public, lobbyists and our members feel comfortable and safe while the work of the state is being done. As a caucus, we are pleased that the Speaker has removed Rep. Shooter from his chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee while the investigative process into allegations of sexual harassment against him move forward. We made this request this morning as new information, including an incident involving the publisher of The Arizona Republic, continues to arise. Additionally, we support using independent outside counsel to assist the investigation team. We look forward to a fair and thorough inquiry into these disturbing allegations."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.