By Daniel Stefanski |
After a week of controversy from an Arizona Democrat lawmaker, Republicans in the House of Representatives are attempting to hold her accountable for actions caught on tape.
On Monday, Arizona Representatives Justin Heap, David Marshall, and Lupe Diaz filed an ethics complaint with the House Ethics Committee against Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton. The charge, according to the filing, alleges “upon information and belief, Representative Stahl Hamilton removed and concealed House property – specifically, Holy Bibles that have long been on display in the House Members’ Lounge – without apparent authority to do so. After removing the Bibles, she placed them under seat cushions, potentially causing Christian Members of the House, staff, and guests to unknowingly sit on their own holy text, and also placed one of them in a refrigerator, which is disrespectful in the extreme.”
Monday’s complaint fulfills a Thursday promise by fellow Republican, Representative Jacqueline Parker, that details would be forthcoming on an ethics complaint in this matter.
The three lawmakers released a joint statement, reading, in part: “The actions of Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton to remove, conceal, and disrespect the sacred text held in reverence by her fellow members suggests to her colleagues, and to the millions of faithful citizens of Arizona, that their beliefs and values are no longer welcome within the halls of their own government.”
The complaint does not request “the Ethics Committee to investigate or make any determination of any criminal allegations that belong in a court of law,” but rather “submit legal authorities for consideration because they are relevant for the Committee to determine whether Representative Stahl Hamilton violated House Rule 1.”
Making their case for the Ethics Committee to take necessary action against Stahl Hamilton, the Republican coalition’s complaint states: “Representative Stahl Hamilton engaged in disorderly behavior, potentially committed repeated acts of theft, and created a hostile work environment, which demonstrate a lack of respect for other members of the Legislature, staff, visitors, and their property, and the rule of law. Her actions, as a legislator in a position of public trust, may have caused offense to the practicing Christians in Arizona, who hold the Bible as a sacred text and expect their elected officials to uphold basic principles of respect and civility.”
The Republicans make it crystal clear in the complaint that they aren’t falling for Stahl Hamilton’s comments over her actions, writing: “Representative Stahl Hamilton has dismissed her unlawful actions as: “a playful commentary,” “a peaceful protest,” or an attempt to “start a conversation on the separation of Church & State.” These public comments came only after the Representative was aware that her actions had been caught on camera and the incident became a matter of national concern. Had a camera not been installed, these deeply inappropriate actions could have continued indefinitely to the detriment of other Members. The people of Arizona deserve a higher standard of decorum and respect from their elected representatives.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.