Shooter lawsuit filled with salacious details, accusations

71. The effect of this reprisal was to immediately eliminate Mr. Shooter’s authority to issue subpoenas.

72. On or about November 15, 2017, that House investigative team, comprised only of staff members selected by the Speaker, retained the private law firm of Sherman and Howard as independent investigators to conduct the investigation.

73. Sherman & Howard was hired to conduct a factual investigation.

74. Sherman & Howard was paid by taxpayer dollars to investigate, not litigate allegations of sexual misconduct.

75. Sherman & Howard has refused to provide a copy of the retainer agreement or documents setting forth their relationship despite requests from multiple parties including Mr. Shooter.

76. Despite the fact that Representative Ugenti-Rita was subject to the House independent investigation, and despite the fact that she served as Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mesnard refused to apply the same standard to both members investigation and suspend Representative Ugenti-Rita from her position as Chair of her Committee or return Representative Shooter to his chairmanship.

77. Further demonstrating the disparate treatment applied throughout the investigation, unlike his treatment of Shooter, Mesnard indicated that making any pre-determinations before the investigation of Ugenti-Rita was complete would be premature.

78. Privately and repeatedly, Speaker Mesnard requested Representative Shooter resign.

79. Contrary to the Speaker’s assertion that it would be premature to reach any conclusions prior to the conclusion of the investigation, by his actions, he made clear that he was biased by pronouncing Representative Shooter unable to serve as a committee chair yet not applying the same procedure to Representative Ugenti with respect to her chairmanship.

80. Mesnard further determined that the investigation was insufficient to taint Representative Ugenti-Rita in any way, despite a written request made public by members of his caucus asking that he treat members consistently. He did not intervene with Ugenti-Rita’s continued chairmanship of her committee.

81. The disparate and preferential treatment of Representative Ugenti-Rita was steadfast throughout the investigation.

82. Another example of Mesnard’s bias against Representative Shooter and the special treatment of Ugenti-Rita related to Mesnard’s decision to pay a “capped” amount of the attorneys’ fees for the three legislators under investigation. (Soon after claims against Representatives Ugenti and Shooter were made, an ethics complaint which included allegations of sexual misconduct, was filed against Representative Rebecca Rios making her the third legislator under investigation by the independent investigator).

83. The Speaker contacted Representative Shooter and informed him of his decision to pay a portion of all three legislators’ attorneys’ fees then immediately requested Representative Shooter not accept the offer.

84. All three legislators submitted invoices from their attorneys, each in excess of the capped fee amount. Notably, the Speaker paid 25% more to the attorney representing Representative Ugenti-Rita than Mr. Shooter’s or Ms. Rios’s.

E. Representative Shooter Responds To His Wrongful Chairmanship Removal

85. Representative Shooter attempted to redress this disparate treatment on his own. He hired counsel Daniel Pasternak to request a fair process.

86. Mr. Pasternak contacted the investigator, Craig Morgan, via letter dated January 4, 2018 to urge that Representative Shooter be returned to his position as Committee Chair.

87. Representative Shooter was attempting to ensure that the procedures were evenly applied.

88. Pasternak encouraged the Speaker to treat both Ugenti-Rita and Shooter consistently by allowing them to both retain their positions as chair of their respective committees.

89. Mesnard’s response in a letter contained one word: “No” with no explanation.

F. Mesnard Changes The Rules

90. The House has long had policies regarding equal treatment in the workplace. Yet, the Speaker created a substantially more restrictive policy which he directed to only be applied to Representative Shooter.

91. Mesnard’s policy, created at the time Ugenti-Rita made allegations of sexual harassment, was never voted on and remains unadopted by the elected members of the House though, was required to be voted on and adopted before applying to any elected members under House Rule.

92. The Speaker lacked the authority and violated the House Rules when he unilaterally created a separate policy that he applied to only one of three members accused and investigated, in the same month by the same independent investigator, for misconduct.

93. This separate policy was provided by the Speaker to the House’s independent investigator to assess allegations against Representative Shooter.

94. This policy (which is referred to in the independent investigators’ report as “the Policy”) was created, adopted in November 2017 and enforced, unilaterally by the Speaker. The Speaker lacked the authority to unilaterally adopt a new policy for elected members of the House under existing House Rules.

95. The new, proposed policy was announced only after Ugenti posted allegations on Facebook.

96. In the history of the United States, all serious allegations of misconduct against a member of the Arizona Legislature, by tradition as well as parliamentary and procedural expectations, have been handled by a committee of elected peers such as a “Special Committee” or an Ethics Committee (with one exception described below that took place during the Civil War for United States senators who abandoned the senate and joined the rival, Confederate government that was at war with the United States).

97. No Legislature in Arizona history, has attempted the expulsion of a member without convening a special or ethics committee consisting of elected members.

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Under the leadership of Arizona Daily Independent Editor In Chief Huey Freeman, our team of staff reporters work tirelessly to bring the latest, most accurate news to our readers.