By Daniel Stefanski |
Another Arizona Legislative disciplinary issue may be reaching its conclusion.
Last week, the Arizona House of Representatives Committee on Ethics transmitted its report on the complaint filed the previous month against Democrat Representative Stephanie Stahl Hamilton. The May 1 complaint was levied by three Republican Representatives: Justin Heap, David Marshall and Lupe Diaz.
The ethics complaint alleged “that on three separate occasions in March and April 2023, Representative Stahl Hamilton moved two Holy Bibles from their locations in the Members’ Lounge and hid them under the Lounge’s couch cushions and in a refrigerator in the shared Coffee Bar.”
After a response by Representative Stahl Hamilton and an Evidentiary Hearing held on May 25, the Arizona House Ethics Committee found that “Representative Stahl Hamilton purposely removed the Bibles from their locations within the Members’ Lounge on three separate occasions;” that “Representative Stahl Hamilton purposely concealed the Bibles in a manner that was disrespectful to other Members;” that “Representative Stahl Hamilton did not fully apologize for her conduct;” and that “Representative Stahl Hamilton’s repeated actions offended some Members of the House, violated the inherent obligation to protect the integrity of the House, and caused the House to expend resources.”
Representative Stahl Hamilton did not appear at her hearing – as noted by the report: “Given the fact-intensive allegations in the Complaint, the Committee would have preferred to hear testimony from Representative Stahl Hamilton. Indeed, the Committee had prepared questions for Representative Stahl Hamilton relevant to this investigation.”
The five-Member committee (comprised of Representatives Joseph Chaplik, Travis Grantham, Gail Griffin, Christopher Mathis, and Jennifer Longdon) found “that the evidence sufficiently supports a conclusion that Representative Stahl Hamilton’s repeated behavior, taken as a whole, constitutes disorderly behavior in violation of Rule 1 of the Arizona House of Representatives.” The Committee did not stipulate a specific punishment to accompany its findings, but left that decision up to the entire chamber, stating, “Based on this finding, and because Representative Stahl Hamilton’s violation of Rule 1 involves House property and took place on House property, the Committee deems it appropriate for the House as a whole to decide what disciplinary measures, if any, should be taken.”
The finding by the Committee, “that Representative Stahl Hamilton did violate Rule 1,” was unanimous.
It will now be up to House Speaker Ben Toma and the entire chamber to decide which appropriate consequence, if any, fits Representative Stahl Hamilton’s actions.
This process involving Representative Stahl Hamilton is the second of the legislative session for the Arizona House. The first occurred with former Representative Liz Harris, a Republican, who was expelled by a vote of the full chamber after the conclusion of the Ethics Committee’s deliberations.
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.