A House investigation finally confirmed yesterday that there is “credible evidence” Republican Rep. Don “Tequila” Shooter violated a sexual harassment policy and created a hostile working environment at the Capitol. Well no shit.
The Arizona Capitol Times reports, Rep. Shooter sexually harassed women, created hostile work environment, investigator finds:
After the allegations against Shooter surfaced, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard suspended Shooter from his powerful position as the chairman of the House Appropriations committee.
Mesnard said today Shooter will be permanently removed from all committee assignments immediately. Mesnard also said he will seek to censure Shooter for his behavior.
Excuse me? I’m sorry, but the remedy here is one of only two options: Rep. Shooter can either voluntarily resign his seat, or the House should vote for expulsion of a member. A censure is merely a slap on the wrist with no serious consequences.
Additionally, Mesnard wants to institute a formal code of conduct and prohibit the consumption of alcohol on House premises.
Mesnard said he wants to add a formal anti-harassment policy to the House rules, which carry the force of law. He will formalize a human resources department for the House as well, he said.
Wait, the federal Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964, and the Arizona Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1974. You are telling me the Arizona legislature does not have formal personnel rules and procedures to deal with claims of unlawful discrimination, harassment and a hostile work environment? This is reckless, irresponsible and negligent. The people who write our laws are the very last to comply with those laws. This is unacceptable.
If I was suing an employer who did not have formal personnel rules and procedures to deal with claims of unlawful discrimination, harassment and a hostile work environment for the sexual harassment of an employee, liability would be clearly established. The only question would be how many zeroes follow the crooked numbers on the settlement check.
Rep. Shooter said in a statement that he is reviewing the report and made no indication he will resign. He thanked his colleagues and the investigators for their work.
“This has been a humbling and eye-opening experience for me,” Shooter said. “I look forward to working to repair relationships and serving my constituents and our great state.”
Sooo, Shooter is not resigning, as every other male accused of sexual harassment in business and politics — save one (you know who) — has done in the past six months with the #Me Too movement. That leaves the House with only the option of expulsion of a member. Shooter’s gotta go.
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Mesnard told reporters that a formal censure, though rare, is appropriate in this situation. He added that if “any other misbehavior occurs,” he would move to expel Shooter.
Sooo, Shooter gets one more chance to behave like a mature responsible adult? I’m sorry, but no. There have to be consequences for his past egregious actions based upon the findings of the report.
In their conclusion, investigators Craig Morgan and Lindsay Hesketh said Shooter broke the House harassment policy, and his “repeated pervasive conduct” had created a hostile work environment.
“Although we could not conclude that all of the allegations made against Mr. Shooter occurred, or if they did, also violated the policy, there remain several credible allegations evidencing that Mr. Shooter has engaged in a pattern of unwelcome and hostile conduct toward other members of the legislature and those who have business at the Capitol,” the investigators wrote.
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Mesnard said he informed Shooter of his decision to remove him from committee today. Shooter felt the punishment was “too harsh,” Mesnard said.
That doesn’t sound like Shooter has any sense of contrition, i.e., sincere penitence or remorse for his actions. This is an aggravating factor. He needs to be expelled.
House Minority Leader Rebecca Rios said Mesnard’s recommended sanctions are well-deserved, but the Democratic caucus is still deciding if the actions go far enough, or if further actions, like a call for expulsion or ethics hearing, are warranted.
Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix, said Tuesday that it’s not for him to decide if more action should be taken against Shooter, such as a motion to expel. That’s up to the women who came forward with stories of Shooter’s behavior.
No, it is the responsiblity of the employer, in this case, the leadership of the House. The employee need only file a complaint, which occurred here.
Gov. Doug Ducey’s office is still combing through the details in the report, spokesman Patrick Ptak said in an email today.
“But the governor has made it clear — there is no room for sexual harassment at the state Capitol or anywhere else,” Ptak said.
A mere censure that gives Shooter one more chance to behave like a mature responsible adult is making room for sexual harassment to occur again at the state Capitol. The governor should support the expulsion of Rep. Shooter.
UPDATE: House Majority Whip Kelly Townsend demonstrated the moral and legal certitude that House Speaker J.D. Mesnard is entirely lacking. You should take note of the deafening silence from her male colleagues in the House. Townsend to seek Rep. Shooter’s expulsion if he doesn’t resign:
House Majority Whip Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, on Wednesday said censure doesn’t suffice.
“I believe the censure is a slap on the hand. I think that it’s not enough,” she said. “The gentleman is still in the building, and the potential of more of the same type of behavior as is shown in the report, that it is a pattern. If we have an established pattern, that means that it could continue, and I’m not willing to allow that.”
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Townsend called for the immediate resignation of Shooter, a Yuma Republican who broke the House sexual harassment policy and whose “repeated pervasive conduct” created a hostile work environment for other representatives, lobbyists and others.
“Please give this House the dignity it deserves and step down,” Townsend said on the House floor Wednesday afternoon.
If Shooter does not resign by Thursday, then Townsend vowed to make a motion to expel him, an act that would take a two-thirds majority vote among the 60 representatives in the House.
“If you read the results of this investigation, it’s very clear that he doesn’t understand the magnitude of his actions. His answers to a lot of these things are very concerning. And to have somebody with that mentality continuing to be around people he could continue to harass is unacceptable. He needs to leave,” she said.
Townsend said she’ll move forward with the motion even if it’s clear the votes aren’t there to expel Shooter. Doing so would at least send a message that Shooter’s pattern of behavior is unacceptable, Townsend said.
“I hope that the result of this is a statement loud and clear that we will not tolerate this type of behavior,” Townsend said. “If we don’t do that and we allow this to continue, it sets a very dangerous precedent that there are certain things you can get away with, and get a slap on the hand.”
The clock is ticking down on Don “Tequila” Shooter Thursday night. Townsend’s male colleagues had better grow a pair and find the moral courage to step up to defend their female colleagues from the sexual harassment of Don Shooter.