The Latest: Arizona House votes to expel embattled lawmaker

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Posted: Feb 01, 2018 4:04 PM
The Latest: Arizona House votes to expel embattled lawmaker

PHOENIX (AP) — The Latest on efforts to punish an Arizona lawmaker over sexual harassment allegations (all times local):

2:05 p.m.

The Arizona House has voted to expel a Republican lawmaker over sexual harassment allegations.

Rep. Don 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.

Thursday's vote comes after an outside investigator determined that Shooter engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment that created a hostile workplace.

Shooter says he's done nothing to justify expulsion. He made a last-ditch effort to avoid a vote by sending a letter questioning the thoroughness of the report that found evidence of pervasive misconduct.

Republican House Speaker J.D. Mesnard had sought a censure but moved to expel Shooter after receiving the letter. He says Shooter's comments represented a clear act of retaliation and harassment worthy of expulsion.

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12:30 p.m.

Female members of the Arizona House from Republican and Democratic parties have gathered in an emotional moment in advance of a vote that could lead to the expulsion of a male member that a report found violated sexual harassment rules.

In the center of the group was Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, whose complaint against fellow Republican Rep. Don Shooter prompted Thursday's action.

Republican Rep. Kelly Townsend says she told members they could silently pray ands then told them "today is going to separate the politician from the statesmen, or stateswomen."

Shooter says he won't resign but accepts responsibility for boorish behavior and won't fight a censure.

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11:45 a.m.

Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard is calling for the immediate expulsion of a fellow Republican after Rep. Don Shooter said a sexual harassment report that found he harassed female members omitted claims about another lawmaker.

Thursday's developments come as the full House was poised to vote on Mesnard's previous call for a formal censure of Shooter. He now says Shooter's new comments represent a clear act of retaliation and harassment and he wants him voted out immediately.

Shooter says in an interview he deserves censure but did nothing to justify expulsion.

He sent a letter to fellow members Thursday saying a woman interviewed for the report looking into his behavior and that of Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita omitted a young woman's complaint. He says she complained another lawmaker subjected her to unwanted sexual advances.

Shooter would not say who that lawmaker was.

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10:30 a.m.

A Republican Arizona lawmaker says a report showing he engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment toward women omits serious allegations against another House member.

Rep. Don Shooter faces a censure vote in the House Thursday and some GOP members want him expelled.

Shooter says in an interview that he deserves censure but did nothing to justify expulsion.

He sent a letter to fellow members Thursday saying a woman interviewed for the report looking into his behavior and that of Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita omitted a young woman's complaint. He says she complained another lawmaker subjected her to unwanted sexual advances.

Shooter would not say who that lawmaker was. His letter says he wants the report to include those allegations before the House acts on his possible punishment.

The report contains a section about Ugenti-Rita's boyfriend sending sexually explicit communications to a person. The investigators determined they happened but there was no credible evidence Ugenti-Rita knew or was involved in the actions.

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12:30 a.m.

A showdown is looming in the Arizona House over what penalty should be imposed on a Republican lawmaker found to have engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment toward women.

The House is set to meet late Thursday morning to consider Republican Speaker J.D. Mesnard's proposal for a formal censure of Rep. Don Shooter. A censure is the harshest penalty possible short of expulsion.

Republican Majority Whip Kelly Townsend is calling for Shooter's resignation and says she'll move for an expulsion vote if he doesn't step down. Meanwhile, some other Republicans believe Shooter deserves a lesser penalty or a chance to defend himself.

Expulsion requires support from 40 of 60 members, while a censure requires a simple majority. Republicans control 36 seats and Democrats 24.