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Arizona Legislature expels GOP state lawmaker for alleged sexual misconduct

Arizona Sen. Don Shooter, a Democrat addresses the legislature before he was dismissed over sexual misconduct allegations. (YouTube screenshot)

Rep. Don Shooter was kicked out of the Arizona Legislature on Thursday amidst allegations of sexual misconduct.

Shooter, a Republican, was known "for booze-fueled partying and good-ol’ boy, clownish behavior," The Associated Press said.

Rumors of sexual misconduct circled around the married and retired Yuma farmer but were dismissed as “country bumpkin jokester” behavior, the AP reported. That changed with the #MeToo movement in October that led to millions of women taking to social media to share their experiences with sexual harassment or assault.

Arizona state Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, also a Republican, publicly accused Shooter of propositioning her for sex and making repeated comments about her breasts, according to the AP.

Following a 56-3 vote to remove Shooter, Republican House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said:

This all began years ago when Mr. Shooter began making inappropriate comments and gestures to people and culminated today. Certainly the #MeToo movement and the greater awareness not only here but nationally over issues of sexual harassment and other similar offenses brought this to the forefront.

Did Shooter go quietly?

As the Legislature began voting on his removal, Shooter defended himself, yet admitted he had said and done “stupid things,” the Arizona Republic reported.

Shooter began talking as the Legislature began voting and cast a "no" vote on his own behalf.

“Shooter dropped his microphone onto his desk and immediately left the House floor — and security escorted him off the Capitol premises — as his colleagues continued to vote and give statements that overwhelmingly condemned his behavior,” according to the Republic.

Hours after his removal, Shooter told the paper, “I’ve been kicked out of better places than this.”

Following a New York Times expose about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, prominent men from entertainment, sports, and media were also accused of sexual misconduct or assault.

Faced with similar allegations, other lawmakers have resigned, lost leadership positions, or said they would not seek re-election. Shooter did none of the above.

In November, Mesnard called for an investigation after Ugenti-Rita accused Shooter of having “an inappropriate relationship with a staffer.” The investigation found that Shooter allegedly engaged in “repeated pervasive conduct (that) created a hostile work environment for his colleagues and those with business before the Legislature,” the Republic stated.

Slowly, over time, he apologized for what he termed his “jarring, insensitive and demeaning” comments. He denied, however, that he ever tried to touch anyone or initiate a sexual relationship, the Republic reported.

Prior to the Legislature’s vote, Shooter allegedly alarmed colleagues by walking around the House building, popping into offices and saying, “It’s a great day for a hanging,” the report also said.

Another Republican will be appointed to fill out the remaining 11 months of his term, the AP reported.

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