Home>Crime>Indicted Senators Retain Committee Roles – for Now

State Senate President Warren Petersen speaking with attendees at the 2023 Legislative Forecast Luncheon hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry at Chase Field in Phoenix, January 6, 2023. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Indicted Senators Retain Committee Roles – for Now

Petersen pressured, declines punishments pending completion of due process

By The Center Square, April 29, 2024 10:46 am

(The Center Square) – Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen is holding off on disciplinary action against Sens. Jake Hoffman (R-LD15) and Anthony Kern (R-LD27) following their indictments in the 2020 elector case.

Petersen said that due process will need to play out before he would take action, like removing the members from committee assignments.

“The Senator and his colleagues in the Democrat party seem to have forgotten our citizens are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and they have the right to due process. Not one of our members has been convicted of any crimes, nor any ethics violations, prompting the necessity of any punishment,” Petersen said in a statement on Thursday. “I believe in upholding the Constitution, and I believe in the rule of law, and that means I will not infringe on anyone’s fundamental right to a fair and impartial trial or hearing.”

“There must be a conviction from a court of law or recommendation from the Senate Ethics Committee before taking any rash action,” he added.

His response stemmed a letter by Sen. Brian Fernandez, D-Yuma, calling on Hoffman and Kern to face consequences in their capacity as lawmakers.

“The charges include fraud, forgery, and conspiracy – class 2, 4, and 5 felonies. In the letter sent to President Petersen, I express that we must uphold the presumption of innocence afforded to every American; however, the potential repercussions of these accusations on the public’s perception of the legislative legitimacy are too consequential to overlook,” the senator said in a statement. “I look forward to the President’s response and will continue to update the people of Arizona on this ongoing matter.”

The senators, who are members of the Arizona Freedom Caucus, were two of 18 people indicted in the case. For Hoffman, Kern and several others, the charges include conspiracy, fraud and forgery.

Hoffman is the chairman of the director nominations and government committees, according to the Arizona legislature website. He’s also the vice-chairman of the appropriations committee and a member of the transportation, technology, and missing children committee. Kern is the chairman of the judiciary committee and a member of the appropriations and transportation, technology, and missing children committee.

Both Hoffman and Kern have criticized the grand jury indictments as a political move.

“When President Trump called for my aid, I answered,” Kern, who’s running for Congress in Arizona’s Eighth District, said in a statement. “My reward? A crooked Democrat Attorney General prosecuting me with 9 fabricated felonies.”

The Center Square reported that 11 individuals, including the senators, signed a document intended to say that the electors would go for former President Donald Trump and not for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, even though Trump lost the state.

Cameron Arcand for The Center Square

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