Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday his experience is that women who complain about being sexually harassed are generally telling the truth.
But the governor declined to call for Rep. Don Shooter to resign, saying the investigation of charges against the Yuma Republican should be allowed to play out.
“There’s no place for sexual harassment at the state Capitol or in the private sector,” Ducey said when asked about the multiple allegations that have been made against Shooter. And he called the complaints “serious.”
Ducey said he dealt with these kind of allegations before he was governor, when he was chief executive of Cold Stone Creamery.
“My experience has been when women come forward with allegations like this, there is truth there,” he said. And the governor said he always has dealt with them “seriously and urgently.”
“Sometimes it’s resulted in a termination,” Ducey continued. “Sometimes it resulted in discipline. Sometimes it’s resulted in retraining.”
But the governor, while saying he believes allegations being made — acknowledging that the number of complaints is now up to nine — explained he was not prepared to say Shooter should quit.
“Because I am going to allow the investigation to take place,” he responded to questions.
Ducey said he has not talked with Shooter, with whom he has worked before on the state budget, since the allegations became public.
Shooter won’t be working on the budget for the coming fiscal year, at least not for the time being.
On Thursday, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard named Rep. David Livingston, R-Peoria, to chair the House Appropriations Committee, replacing Shooter who was removed from the panel by the speaker late last week as the complaints from lawmakers, lobbyists and others began to pile up.
Livingston had been vice chairman of the committee which is charged with helping to craft the state spending plan. Rep. Vince Leach, R-Tucson, will take the No. 2 spot on the panel.
In the meantime, a special task force of seven House staffers looking into the allegations, now with the help of an outside law firm to do the investigation.
Mesnard has said he hopes to have the issue wrapped up before lawmakers return to the Capitol the second week of January. But that could depend on what the task force finds.
Any conclusions there is evidence that Shooter is guilty of “disorderly behavior” would result in hearings before the House Ethics Committee. And it would be up to that panel to recommend to the full House whether to take action against the 65-year-old legislator, with expulsion the ultimate punishment.