Home>Feature>Embattled Democrat Leezah Sun Denies Impropriety in Ethics Probe

State Representative Leezah Sun on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona State Capitol building in Phoenix, July 31, 2023. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Embattled Democrat Leezah Sun Denies Impropriety in Ethics Probe

Bats down allegations that she acted on behalf of AG Mayes

By Steve Kirwan, November 21, 2023 3:49 am

Representative Leezah Sun (D-22), who faces a series of ethics challenges stemming from alleged misbehavior in and out of her professional role as one of Tolleson’s elected representatives, denies that she acted improperly on behalf of Attorney General Kris Mayes in a child custody case in the summer of 2023. The denial came in the form of a written response to a House Ethics Committee inquiry. The investigation, initiated by House Democrats, stemmed from allegations that Sun threatened city of Tolleson employees.

The complaint states that Sun interfered with a child custody matter on June 16, to which she wasn’t a party. According to court-assigned custody supervisor Kristyn Alcott, Sun claimed that AG Mayes had sent her. Alcott also alleged that Sun threatened to report the incident to Mayes due to the actual custody transfer failing.

In the submitted rebuttal letter, Sun’s attorney, Garrick McFadden—a Phoenix personal injury attorney who has a political background himself, having sought the Democratic nomination to run for Congress against David Schweikert in 2018—called the allegation “egregious” and “spurious.” Sun also allegedly submitted an audio recording and related transcript of the incident, claiming that she never mentioned Mayes’ name. According to the testimony, Sun arrived as the children argued with Alcott over their failure to comply with a court order, refusing to leave Alcott’s vehicle. Sun alleges that she arrived on the scene to “check on her friends,” which matches the testimony and the transcript but not Alcott’s testimony that Sun invoked Mayes’ name.

The rebuttal acknowledges that Sun did indeed interfere but denied that she was “hostile, threatening, and intimidating.” The ethics complaint addresses this incident as part of a pattern of behavior and includes several other incidents that Sun’s attorney McFadden calls “unreasonable.” The other incidents stemmed from three city officials filing police reports stating that Sun threatened them during a meeting in May of 2023 and that Sun allegedly threatened to kill a Tolleson’s lobbyist by throwing her off a balcony on August 29 of this year. The complaint also accuses Sun of cyberstalking stemming from September 13, 2023 Instagram follow requests for family members of Tolleson City Manager Reyes Madrano and Tolleson Chief Government Affairs Officer Pilar Sinawi on Sept. 13.

In the rebuttal letter, McFadden stated, “Not to be flippant, but his fear, given the circumstances, is unreasonable. She never made any verbal threats of imminent harm. She never made gestures that alluded that she was about to strike him or anyone else in the room. She became quiet as she processed what she believed to be his flagrant and unrelenting contempt for her.”

The rebuttal denies that Sun’s behavior rises to the level required for censure, compared to the recent investigations resulting in the censure of Rep. Stephanie Stahl-Hamilton (D-21) and the expulsion of former Rep. Liz Harris (R-13).

McFadden’s letter stated, “Rep. Sun may have acted inappropriately by interfering in the child custody matter, but if you hear the pleas from the children and do not understand the rules, I suggest that many of you would have interfered.” It continues, “The members of this esteemed body have been known to use salty language when they feel they have been disrespected or wronged. It was not the best move to say that she would bitch slap a woman if they were there, but again this does not rise to the level of expulsion or censure.”

The decision to hold a full ethics committee review is pending House Ethics Chairman Rep. Joe Chaplik’s (R-3) decision. If it moves forward, the full committee will review the evidence.

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