Bathroom pot find leads Pierce to propose corp comm drug test, K-9 office search
Published: July 12, 2011 at 11:37 am
After marijuana was discovered in a bathroom in a restricted area of the Arizona Corporation Commission offices, Chairman Gary Pierce today asked his fellow commissioners to consent to drug tests and a search of their offices by a drug-sniffing dog.
“Since the material was found in the wing (where the commissioners’ offices are located), I feel the need to prove to the best of my ability that my decisions at the commission are not made under the influence of marijuana, and that I am not responsible for its presence in the…bathroom” Pierce said.
The other two Republican commissioners, Brenda Burns and Bob Stump, volunteered to let their offices be searched. The panel’s two Democrats, Sandra Kennedy and Paul Newman, did not comment on Pierce’s proposal during today’s Corporation Commission staff meeting.
A commission staffer on July 7 found marijuana in a bathroom located in a secured area of the building. Capitol Police were called and verified the small amounts of the green, leafy substance were marijuana.
“I don’t want to be under a cloud, either,” Stump said during the meeting after agreeing to let his office be searched.
Likewise, Burns consented to a sweep later today by a drug-sniffing dog.
“To the extent that it does provide some comfort (for the public), I’m certainly willing to cooperate,” she said.
Pierce also asked his colleagues to provide hair and urine samples for drug testing, “so that it’s as thorough as they can make it.” He said he would publish his own results, and urged the other commissioners to do the same.
He also proposed increasing security in the building and installing a deadbolt lock on the bathroom door to ensure it is not accessed except during normal business hours.
Today’s meeting was scheduled for 9 a.m., but didn’t take place until slightly after 10 a.m. because Kennedy and Newman were absent. When he convened the public staff meeting, Pierce said he was “very troubled” that drugs were found in the building and recessed the meeting until all five of the commissioners were present. Kennedy showed up a few minutes later, but Newman didn’t show up until nearly 10 o’clock.
Newman, who was arrested in 2004 after Border Patrol agents found traces of marijuana in his government-issued vehicle, did not provide a reason for being late.
“I was on my way up from Tucson,” he told reporters when he entered the building.
Although staff meetings typically take place in an upstairs conference room, Pierce re-convened the meeting in the general commission hearing room because an open meeting to consider other commission business was scheduled for 10 a.m.
Newman objected to convening the staff meeting in the hearing room.
“I don’t understand why that’s appropriate. I think there’s reason to discuss it off-the-record,” he said.
But Pierce moved forward with the staff meeting, though the panel only heard one of the five items on that agenda before moving on to the open meeting agenda.