After multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Rep. Don Shooter has been suspended from his duties as chairman of the Arizona House’s powerful budget committee.
Additionally, an influential business group has called on Shooter to resign.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, which wields considerable power in the legislature, said Shooter should resign, its spokesman, Garrick Taylor, said. The Chamber also supports the investigations initiated by Mesnard into all of the allegations, Taylor said.
Arizona House GOP spokesman Matt Specht said Shooter, a Republican from Yuma, has not been removed from the committee, but rather suspended.
Shooter has served as chairman of the House Appropriations committee since January. Before that, he was the chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee.
Over the past few days, eight women have come forward with allegations of harassment and inappropriate behavior, ranging from unwanted touching to sexually charged comments.
House Speaker J.D. Mesnard initiated multiple investigations into the allegations, three of which came from sitting lawmakers.
This morning, Mi-Ai Parrish, the publisher of The Arizona Republic, said Shooter made a remark about items on a sexual bucket list in a professional meeting about public notices.
“Speaker Mesnard has asked Mr. Shooter to step away from the duties of chairman of appropriations,” Specht said.
It’s unclear at this time what the difference between suspension and removal is, particularly since the Legislature is not in session.
“Removed would mean he’s no longer a member of the committee, and suspended means he’s no longer participating in duties as chairman of the appropriations committee until this investigation is concluded,” Specht said.
Mesnard said in a statement that Shooter will not be taking any meetings on budget issues, chairing hearings or being a part of any budget discussions until investigations are concluded.
Shooter will receive a fair and thorough investigation into his behavior, as he is entitled to, Mesnard said.
“I don’t believe he can properly fulfill his obligations as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee until that investigation has concluded,” Mesnard said.
And, because of the scope of the allegations against Shooter, the House’s bipartisan investigative team has decided to hire outside investigators, which Mesnard said he supports. The investigative team will meet on Monday to decide how to proceed.