PRESS RELEASE: 'Our Work is Not Finished.' Engel, DeGrazia React to Ethics Comm Dropping Cook Probe
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2020
PHOENIX -- Democratic members of the House Ethics Committee reacted with anger and incredulity to the Ethics Committee Chair Rep. John Allen's announcement that he was unilaterally dropping the investigation into two complaints lodged with the Committee against Rep. David Cook. You can read Chairman Allen's letter here.
“Dropping the Ethics Committee’s work at this time does a disservice to the people of Arizona who expect charges of this caliber levied against a member to be thoroughly investigated and resolved,” said Rep. Domingo DeGrazia, D-Tucson.
The Committee was in the midst of investigating very serious allegations – allegations that a member facilitated a bribe to a public official to convince him to drop the seizure of the property of a lobbyist with whom he may have been having an affair, not to mention introducing legislation to financially benefit this same lobbyist. The Report submitted by the Committee’s attorneys provided evidence to back up the allegations in the complaints. Even in his letter announcing that the Ethics Committee will not continue its work on this matter, Rep. Allen outlines his serious concerns with Rep. Cook's ethical lapses and failure to cooperate with the investigation, and yet he concludes – without any input from the other committee members – that his conduct does not unequivocally amount to disorderly conduct. That conclusion should have been left to committee members at an upcoming hearing. Engel and DeGrazia expected the committee to take the next step in this process and hear from Rep. Cook. But instead the Chair is dropping the matter altogether.
“The Committee’s work is not finished. I am flabbergasted that the Chair has decided to abruptly end the investigation,” said Rep. Kirsten Engel, D-Tucson. “I cannot understand how Rep. Allen would make this decision without any input from the committee members, who left the last committee hearing with the understanding that the committee would reconvene and consider whether to take any action on the complaints. Moreover, his conclusion that the evidence must be 'unequivocal' in order for the committee to continue its investigation is found nowhere in the committee rules or precedent. It seems the strategy of Rep. Cook’s defenders to pummel the Committee members with emails proclaiming his innocence has worked. The Chair is simply dropping the matter, demonstrating that he is completely incapable of policing the potential misconduct of members."
Both Engel and DeGrazia emphasized that the Chair’s action is not an exoneration of Rep. Cook as there has been no determination of his guilt or innocence of the ethical charges levied against him.