Ethics Committee Finds Stahl Hamilton Violated House Rules

Ethics Committee Finds Stahl Hamilton Violated House Rules

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.

Ethics Committee Finds Stahl Hamilton Violated House Rules

State Rep. Stahl Hamilton Skips Hearing On Her Bible Swiping, Hiding

By Corinne Murdock |

State Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton skipped out on the ethics committee hearing concerning her swiping and hiding state capitol Bibles. Stahl Hamilton stands accused of unethical conduct and undignified behavior. 

The House Ethics Committee considered the allegations against Stahl Hamilton in a hearing on Thursday. Chairman Joseph Chaplik (R-LD03) revealed in a statement following the hearing that Stahl Hamilton neglected to provide notice to the committee that she wouldn’t be participating in her own ethics hearing. 

“Today’s hearing was not a trial, but the Committee made every effort to provide Representative Stahl Hamilton the due process to which she is entitled as a member of the House,” stated Chaplik. “Unfortunately, because of her absence, and the limited information that could be provided by the counsel she sent to represent her, committee members and the public were left with a lot of unanswered questions.”

Amid the fallout concerning her actions, Stahl Hamilton deleted her Twitter account. Reports surfaced in April of Stahl Hamilton caught on security footage taking Bibles from the members lounge and hiding them.

Former state lawmakers Diego Rodriguez and Domingo DeGrazia served as attorneys for Stahl Hamilton during Thursday’s hearing. Rodriguez insisted that, for full context’s sake, the committee be shown the many hours of footage surrounding the incident. The committee rejected that request.

Rodriguez defended Stahl Hamilton’s actions as a valid advocacy for the separation of church and state, as well as a “prank” on fellow members. However, when pressed, neither Rodriguez or DeGrazia could elaborate how the presence of Bibles at the state capitol constituted a violation of the separation of church and state. 

“Her intent was the peaceful protest of what she perceived to be for the separation of church and state,” stated Rodriguez. “What today boils down to is that certain folks are just not comfortable with the way certain things happened. And subsequent to that, they’re not comfortable with the way certain things were explained. And unfortunately that’s just part of life.”

State Rep. Travis Grantham (R-LD13), vice chair of the committee and speaker pro tempore, read aloud Stahl Hamilton’s written response to the ethics committee investigation. In her letter, Stahl Hamilton acknowledged that she should have engaged in a discussion about the separation of church and state rather than engaging in the behavior she had. 

“I find it a little disingenuous to reference church and state. You’re talking about the separation of church and state, which says no coercion in religious matters, no expectation to support a religious document or religion against one’s will, in that religious liberty encompasses all religions. How is a Bible sitting on a table somehow a violation of church and state?” asked Grantham. “Did Mrs. Stahl Hamilton feel like she was being coerced to follow a certain religion?”

Neither Rodriguez or DeGrazia had an answer for Grantham. The vice chair also asked whether the state motto, “God enriches,” would be considered a violation of the separation of church and state. Rodriguez and DeGrazia smiled but didn’t answer directly.

“It’s not seemingly normal behavior, and there doesn’t seem to be a real good answer with regards to what was written here,” said Grantham.

The 2005 case Van Orden v. Perry dispelled the argument that Christian text on government property violates the separation between church and state. In the case, a citizen claimed that the Texas State Capitol grounds couldn’t contain a monument bearing the Bible’s Ten Commandments. The Supreme Court disagreed in a 5-4 decision.

State Rep. Gail Griffin (R-LD19) said she didn’t view Stahl Hamilton’s actions as a joke. 

“I don’t understand why she’s so angry about a Holy Book that many of us feel very close [to] and rule our lives by,” said Griffin. 

State Rep. Justin Heap (R-LD10) was one of the members who filed the complaint. Heap testified on Thursday, saying he became aware of Stahl Hamilton’s Bible swiping after it was reported on at the national level. 

“What was particularly disturbing to me was not simply that these Bibles were removed, but the photos of where these Bibles were placed: both in a refrigerator and under the cushions of chairs of where I and other members and lobbyists sit,” said Heap. “Now I have to deal with the question of, if at some point while these Bibles were missing, was I sitting on my own sacred text? I don’t appreciate that to have happened. I feel that’s inappropriate for any member to do that to other members, it’s a desecration to their scripture and a disrespect to their beliefs.”

Rodriguez asserted that Heap didn’t personally observe the Bibles in any of the places where they were discovered.

State Rep. Jennifer Longdon (D-LD05) questioned whether Stahl Hamilton should be exonerated since she apologized following discovery of her actions. Heap responded that Stahl Hamilton’s apology didn’t absolve her of wrongdoing. 

“The apology came only after her actions had been known; she was informed that this had been caught on video and that this became an issue of national concern. That does put a shadow over the sincerity of her apology,” said Heap. “That question is irrelevant to the question of whether her behavior was appropriate.”

Grantham pointed out that Stahl Hamilton’s apology wasn’t for the act of swiping and hiding the Bibles, but rather for the fact that some members felt offended by her actions.

“To my recollection, and correct me if I’m wrong: she didn’t apologize for the action. She apologized for the offense of anyone who thought that that action was inappropriate,” said Grantham. “I never remembered an actual apology for the action.” 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

New Budget Includes Tax Relief For Arizona Families

New Budget Includes Tax Relief For Arizona Families

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona taxpayers are going to get some extra cash for the holidays thanks to Republicans giving back from this fiscal year’s budget.

Included in the Fiscal Year 2023 Arizona Budget was the insertion of the Arizona Families Tax Rebate. According to a release from Arizona Freedom Caucus Chairman and Senator Jake Hoffman, “Arizona families can expect to receive one-time tax rebates of up to $750 for qualifying households. Those with dependents under the age of 17 will receive $250 per dependent, or those with dependents 17 and older will receive $100 per dependent, capped at three dependents. Households must have a tax liability of at least $1 in order to be eligible. This criterion is based off of 2021 state tax returns.”

Hoffman explained the motivation for the tax rebate, writing, “Gas, groceries, housing and energy prices have surged over the past three years since Democrats took control of the federal government. As a result, Arizona families are hurting while they attempt to pay for the most basic necessities each month, like putting food on the table, keeping a roof over their heads, paying medical bills, keeping the lights on and filling up their gas tanks. In the meantime, government is flush with cash and in the position to give back to our honest, hardworking taxpayers.”

“This is the first time in at least 30 years our state lawmakers have been able to step up to the plate to provide a tax rebate of this magnitude for our citizens,” said Hoffman. “I’m proud of the leadership of the Arizona Freedom Caucus, and for the support of our Republican colleagues, to dedicate $260 million to helping struggling Arizona families. Despite the current economic uncertainty, the Arizona Freedom Caucus, and conservative Republicans at-large, remain fully committed to keeping Arizona free, vibrant, and prosperous for Arizona families, and all Arizonans, for generations to come. We hope this extra money will make life a little less stressful for our Arizona families as they approach the Christmas holiday season later this year.”

This tax rebate appeared to be the focus of discontentment from some Democrats at the state legislature. Earlier in the week, Representative Oscar De Los Santos took to Twitter to share his thoughts about the recently negotiated budget, saying, “Important context missing from AZ budget debate: Years of massive GOP corporate tax giveaways have resulted in AZ not having the resources – this year & in the future – we need to fund our schools, ensure housing & healthcare for all, solve the water crisis, and more.”

De Los Santos’ charge led Republican Representative Justin Heap to respond: “By ‘corporate tax giveaways’ do you mean the ‘Family Tax Rebate’ that will give every Arizona family with children a check? Leave it to Democrats to characterize giving some of their tax money back to Arizona families as ‘tax giveaway.’ It’s not our money, it’s theirs.”

The pushback from Heap led another Democrat lawmaker, Representative Athena Salman, to add, “That’s false. Your rebate program leaves out families like mine who started and grew our families after 2022. Plus non-tax filers. Go read the bill, it’s short.”

Scot Mussi, the President of the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, told AZ Free News, “we were very pleased to see the budget not only be structurally balanced, but also return nearly $300 million back to taxpayers. That money belonged to hardworking families, and we are glad it’s getting returned to them.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

Ethics Committee Finds Stahl Hamilton Violated House Rules

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Stahl Hamilton For Creating Hostile Work Environment With Bible Thefts

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.

Hoffman Bill Aims To Identify Companies That Facilitate or Promote Abortions

Hoffman Bill Aims To Identify Companies That Facilitate or Promote Abortions

By Daniel Stefanski |

For a number of years, the Grand Canyon State has been home to some of the most pro-life and pro-family lawmakers, officials, and advocates in the nation, giving Arizona a superior reputation for protecting life and parental rights. Even with a drastic change in values from the state’s new governor, some legislators are still seeking to augment their state’s pro-life standing.

Senator Jake Hoffman introduced SB 1146, which “requires the State Board of Investment to identify U.S. companies that donate to or invest in organizations that promote, facilitate or advocate for abortions for minors or for the inclusion of, or the referral of students to, sexually explicit material in grades K-12,” according to the purpose of the bill provided by the Arizona Senate. Hoffman’s legislation would require “the State Treasurer to divest from the identified companies.”

SB 1146 has eleven co-sponsors: two in the Senate (Senators Anthony Kern and Justine Wadsack), and nine in the House (Representatives Joseph Chaplik, Justin Heap, Rachel Jones, Alex Kolodin, Cory McGarr, Barbara Parker, Jacqueline Parker, Beverly Pingerelli, and Austin Smith). Earlier this month, it passed out of the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by J.D. Mesnard, with a party-line 4-3 vote. Senators Mesnard, Steve Kaiser (Vice Chairman), Janae Shamp, and David Gowan voted to approve the bill; while Senators Lela Alston, Brian Fernandez and Mitzi Epstein voted to oppose.

In an exclusive interview with AZ Free News on why he sponsored this bill, Senator Jake Hoffman said, “There is no excuse for Arizona taxpayer resources being used to prop up woke corporate oligarchs that are funneling their profits into far-left extremists groups working to undermine our state’s pro-life and pro-family policies. We are in a war for the minds and souls of our future generations, and we should not sit idly by while the ruling class ‘elites’ force feed them a radical agenda that is antithetical to the values of the majority of Arizonans.”

Democrat Senator Mitzi Epstein strongly disagrees with this legislation, saying, “It would violate people’s First Amendments; their various rights to have an abortion, which is legal in Arizona or their various rights to learn about things from places that provide those materials. The Senate Democrat Caucus also warned about this bill before the Finance Committee took it under consideration this week, tweeting, “SB 1146 interjects politics into our money management where there is currently no problem. Further demonizing age-appropriate sex education and abortion care is not popular policy. We cannot afford more Republicans games.”

Should this bill pass both chambers of the Arizona Legislature, it would likely find an open door on the Ninth Floor for an expedient veto from Governor Hobbs, who made abortion rights one of the themes of her State of the State address to the Legislature in January.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.