House has ethics hearing on Democrats who yell but not fake electors who cheat. Go figure

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Can someone please check on Rep. Barbara Parker? I worry, you see.

The Mesa Republican is apparently traumatized because some Democrats raised their voices and waged their fingers on the House floor last month when Republicans refused to allow a vote on repealing that 1864 law that criminalizes abortion.

Fortunately, Parker survived the ordeal and lived to file ethics complaints against the ringleaders of the chanters and pointers, Reps. Oscar De Los Santos and Analise Ortiz, both Phoenix Democrats.

I want to make it very clear,” Parker said on Wednesday, during a House Ethics Committee hearing convened to consider the fate of the two Democrats. “I was indeed frightened. I was indeed intimidated, alarmed and aghast. A plethora of emotions.”

Funny, I feel sort of the same way every year when the Legislature returns to the Capitol, to scheme out a few hundred new laws for the rest of us to follow.

But I digress.

Parker, et al call Democrats 'insurrectionists'

Rep. Barbara Parker during a House NREW committee hearing inside the House of Representatives in Phoenix on Jan. 23, 2024.
Rep. Barbara Parker during a House NREW committee hearing inside the House of Representatives in Phoenix on Jan. 23, 2024.

The incident occurred on April 10. The Arizona Supreme Court had just ruled the previous day, reinstating the state’s 160-year-old near total ban on abortion, and Democrats were hoping to muster enough votes to repeal the law.

Rather than allowing a vote, House Republicans quickly recessed, prompting De Los Santos and Ortiz to lead a chant in which their fellow Ds shouted, “Shame!” and “Blood on your hands!” and “Save women’s lives!”

This, while advancing and wagging their fingers at Republicans as they quickly exited through a side door.

“With the neck veins that were popping out, the red flushed faces, the straining and the screaming — and you can see where De Los Santos even struck one of the desks,” said Parker, who curiously was the only person bothered enough to testify at Wednesday’s hearing. “I thought, ‘They’re going to lose it. This is going to get out of control.’ ”

No word on whether Parker needed oxygen after her ordeal but soon after she and Republican Reps. Jacqueline Parker of Mesa (her daughter), David Marshall of Snowflake and Rachel Jones of Tucson filed ethics complaints accusing Ortiz and De Los Santos of “insurrectionist” behavior and staging “a riot,” calling it “completely unprovoked.”

“House Republicans merely voted in support of a short recess to conduct due diligence, discuss collectively, and exercise prudence and wisdom in addressing legislative business and procedures,” the complaint against De Los Santos said.

Yelling is bad, but not forging signatures?

Put another way, the majority party was afraid that a couple of Republicans were about to side with Democrats and force a vote on repealing the 1864 law … something that ultimately occurred a few weeks later.

Now, De Los Santos and Ortiz stand accused of disorderly behavior and violating House rules of conduct.

So let’s review the sort of behavior that warrants the convening of a formal ethics investigation in the Arizona Legislature.

Rep. Austin Smith, R-Wittman, ran for the hills on April 18 when he was accused of forging 100 signatures on his nominating petitions to get on the July 30 ballot. Rather than fighting the legal challenge to his petitions, Smith quickly withdrew his reelection bid.

Given that forgery is a serious accusation, you might think that some Republican legislator might have called for an ethics investigation to dig into whether this elected official engaged in election fraud, and if so, whether he meets the Legislature’s ethical standards.

You might, but you’d be wrong. Four Democrats filed a complaint about Smith on May 3, but Ethics Chairman Joseph Chaplik, R-Scottsdale, appears to be sitting on it.

Indictments, undue influence also get a pass

Sens. Anthony Kern, R-Glendale, and Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, were indicted on April 24, accused of forgery, fraud and conspiracy for passing themselves off as phony Trump electors in the scheme to overthrow Arizona’s vote in the 2020 presidential election.

Given that each now stands accused of nine felonies, you might think that some Republican legislator might have called for an ethics investigation — or at least suggested that perhaps the pair shouldn’t be chairing the Senate’s Judiciary (Kern) and Government (Hoffman) committees while they are awaiting trial.

You might, but you’d be wrong.

Look who wasn't indicted: In Arizona's fake elector scheme

Sen. Wendy Rogers in December used her position to try to get one of her “constituents” off the hook after he landed in hot water with the state regulatory agency that oversees home inspectors. Somehow, she forgot to mention that she was married to said “constituent.”

Given that it’s frowned upon — or, at least, should be frowned upon — for a state official to use his or her power to help a relative escape discipline for not meeting standards of professional practice, you might think that some Republican legislators might have called for an ethics investigation.

You might, but you’d be wrong.

But a pair of angry Democrats who yelled at Republicans after they blocked a vote on whether to repeal a 19th Century law that requires prison for anyone who helps a woman get an abortion?

Off with their (hot) heads!

Doesn't this sound a little snowflake-ish?

It’s a given that Democrats shouldn’t have shouted and pointed at poor Rep. Parker and her fellow traumatized Republicans. Abortion is an emotional issue on both sides, and frustrations boiled over that day.

But a full-blown ethics investigation into their outburst seems a tad — what’s that word that Republicans like to use? — snowflake-ish.

The Democrats’ attorney, Jim Barton, said it well, in urging the panel to dismiss the complaint.

“There is a problem that we have in America right now of people saying that they don’t feel safe when they feel challenged,” he told the ethics panel.

“And I think it’s an opportunity for the committee to say: ‘That’s not the way it works. When you feel challenged, even if you feel uncomfortable, even if you feel disrespected, that doesn’t mean you feel unsafe.’ ”

The ethics panel will now mull the fate of De Los Santos and Ortiz, with the full House making any final call for discipline. It likely didn’t help that the unrepentant pair didn’t bother showing up at Wednesday’s hearing.

Then again, there’s always a danger they might have burst out laughing.

“That feeling that is in that room, of a hall that has respect and dignity — that is shattered for me,” Parker testified. “That feeling of peace is now gone.”

Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at @LaurieRoberts.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona House may punish Dems for yelling but fake electors are OK