Democrat State Rep. Leezah Sun (D22) faces continuing political troubles after the House announced last week a pending ethics review stemming from a harassment complaint by Tolleson city employees. Democrats on the bipartisan House Ethics Committee filed the request for review after the court granted a restraining order against Sun for allegedly threatening child welfare case manager Kristyn Alcott, Tolleson City Manager Reyes Medrano, and Tolleson Chief Government Affairs Officer Pilar Sinawi. The threats stemmed from several incidents, including a city meeting in May, a child welfare handoff in June, and an August League of Arizona Cities and Towns Conference in Tucson.
Sun denied any wrongdoing in each cited situation, claiming she was being “targeted” by the Tolleson employees because they preferred their prior representative, Democrat Diego Espinoza. The ethics hearing alleging disorderly behavior by Sun follows the committee censuring Rep. Stephanie Stahl-Hamilton (D21) and expelling former Rep. Liz Harris (R13) after members determined both had engaged in disorderly behavior in separate incidents. The referral is all the more significant because it originated with Sun’s own party, precluding accusations of partisan rancor.
Sinawi’s claim is the most serious, alleging that Sun threatened to kill her by throwing her off a balcony. Sun, through her attorney Garrick McFadden, denied that Sun made the death threat, instead claiming that Sun had said she would “bitch slap” Sinawi if she saw her at the conference. They also claimed that the statement did not rise to the level of a threat and instead was protected as hyperbolic speech and failed to meet the legal definition of a threat since Sinawi wasn’t at the conference.
The ethics committee will likely review the evidence later this month. Committee Chairman Rep. Joe Chaplik, R3, requested that both sides submit a list of witnesses to testify by December 13, 2023.
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