There was high drama at the Arizona State Capitol yesterday, as lawmakers voted to expel Yuma Representative Don Shooter. The nearly unanimous vote came after a report, which showed Shooter engaged in a longstanding pattern of sexual harassment. KNAU’S Aaron Granillo reports.
Tensions were already high before House members gathered to vote for Shooter’s removal. He was reportedly roaming the hallways, popping into offices, making obscene and threatening remarks. That prompted House Speaker JD Mesnard to go to Shooter’s office and confiscate his handgun. Earlier in the day, Shooter had circulated a letter, questioning the report that concluded he sexually harassed female colleagues. Mesnard said it became clear Shooter needed to go.
“It’s horrifying because Mr. Shooter in his time down here has done good things for the state and his constituents, and probably will only be remembered for this,” said Mesnard.
The allegations against shooter arose last year at the height of the #MeToo Movement. Seven women came forward. Some accused him of unwanted advances. Others claimed he made sexist remarks. Shooter denied he harassed any women, but apologized for making them feel uncomfortable. Before yesterday’s vote, he spoke to his fellow lawmakers.
"I’ve said stupid things. I’ve done stupid things. I stood on the carpet. I took it like a man. I apologized," said Shooter. "Can’t go back to the past, I can’t change it. But, I can change the future if given the opportunity.”
After those remarks, Shooter did a mic drop. He was escorted off the State Capitol grounds, later telling reporters he’s quote, “free at last.”
In the House chambers, more than a dozen representatives took turns condemning Shooter’s alleged actions.
56 lawmakers voted for Shooter’s expulsion. Three voted no, including Shooter himself. The other two were Prescott Representatives Noel Campbell and David Stringer. They were concerned Shooter did not receive his due process, with Campbell saying voters should decide if he’s removed. Governor Doug Ducey weighed in, supporting Shooter’s expulsion.
It’s the first time since 1991 a member of the state legislature was ousted by fellow lawmakers.