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State Representative Leezah Sun speaking on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives
State Representative Leezah Sun speaking on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives (Photo:Gage Skidmore)

UPDATE: Sun Awaits House Disciplinary Action

Deflections, pleas for mercy abound at ethics committee hearing

By Steve Kirwan, December 21, 2023 5:00 am

State Representative Leezah Sun speaking on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives
State Representative Leezah Sun speaks on the Arizona House of Representatives floor, March 15, 2023 (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Democrat State Rep. Leezah Sun (D-22) begged for mercy from Chairman Joe Chaplik (R-3) during her House Ethics Committee hearing on December 19, 2023. She repeatedly denied any serious wrongdoing, characterizing her behavior as simple disagreement, despite numerous complaints that she made personal and professional threats against multiple city and state employees since the spring. She also used the hearing as a springboard to complain about her fellow Democrats’ focus on political “defense” and various perceived wrongs perpetrated by many of those filing complaints against her.

The hearing included testimony from a previously unheard witness, Littleton Elementary School District Superintendent Roger Freeman, who alleged that Sun threatened to use SB1487 to investigate him. The 2016 law enables legislators to refer any governmental body for investigation by the state attorney general for potential violations of state law or misuse of funds.
According to Freeman, Sun “told me it’s the law that lets her have anybody investigated and she could, in own her words, ‘have you investigated’ leading me to conclude on my own whether that meant the district board president or me. I asked what the allegation would be, and she said she didn’t need an allegation.”

He added that he was initially unsure what to make of Sun’s threat but only decided to file the complaint after learning that others had experienced similar issues with Sun. “I have been working with the legislature for 30 years …,” Freeman added. “It’s never happened to me before.”

Among the many questions Rep. Gail Griffin (R-19) asked Sun during the hearing, she wanted to know if invoking SB1487 would in any way harm the reputation of other local elected officials. Sun denied ever making the threat, a tactic she frequently repeated throughout the hearing.

In another count, Sun allegedly invoked AG Kris Mayes’ name to intervene during a Juvenile and Family Court custody handoff. According to case worker Krysten Alcott, Sun attempted to block the physical handoff of the kids to their father.

“I felt that it was not an appropriate position for an elected member of our legislature to be there and undermining the duties of our superior courts,” Alcott said, adding that she felt it was “perceived as a form of intimidation” because Sun was physically preventing the transfer.

Alcott continued, “When I had said ‘Well, thank you, Leezah,’ she said, ‘It’s Representative Leezah Sun. She corrected me in a very stern manner, and she was wearing a sticky badge that did say Rep. Leezah Sun on it. So, I had a strong indication that she was there as a member of the House and as a legislator.”

Rep. Jennifer Longdon (D-5) asked Sun why she wore the official badge while intervening. Sun said she wore “what she had on the entire day up to the incident.”

Sun said she had stopped by because she was already driving past the area, showing up “as a friend” and was “unaware that she wasn’t allowed to intervene.”

Sun stated she was already nearby and offered her support “as a friend,” adding, “This was not set up; it was a cry from the mother who was a friend informing me of the situation. I thought I could swing by just to see, you know, what is going on prior to the situation and during the situation.”

Sun offered a recording of the incident as part of her defense. However, Alcott maintained that the recording was altered, as evidenced by a long pause at the edit point. Sun denied any knowledge of an edit.

The most dramatic allegation came from Tolleson Chief Government Affairs Officer Pilar Sinawi, who accused Sun of threatening to kill her.

“This has shaken me to the core, to learn that Representative Sun has made statements that she is willing to ‘bitch-slap’ me, to throw me off a balcony to kill me,” Sinawi said.

Sun denied making threats against Sinawi’s life and downplayed her “bitch-slap” threat against Sinawi. Sun added that she “made a statement out of frustration,” adding it was “expressive, but not malice.”

The hearing ended with the committee going into executive session. Upon returning, they announced they would post an agenda if further hearings were needed. The committee’s findings will be sent for full House review, after which they will determine whether to expel Sun, censure her, or do nothing. It will require a simple majority vote to censure but a two-thirds vote for expulsion, a penalty the House has invoked several times in recent months.

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Steve Kirwan
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