PHOENIX – House Elections Committee Chairwoman Kelly Townsend said Wednesday she would file an ethics complaint against Rep. Diego Rodriguez, D-Phoenix, and Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, for violating House rules.
Rodriguez is accused of leaving the contentious House Elections Committee hearing in the middle of a roll call vote. Salman is accused of talking over the chairwoman as she presided over the hearing.
The hearing lasted hours and nerves were obviously frayed by the time the Committee addressed House Bill 2304 before Salman “contributed to the chaos that put every one of us at risk,” according to Townsend.
Democrats, however, accuse Townsend of blocking public testimony.
House Bill 2304 would prohibit voters from taking a translator to a voting booth unless they have a disability. The bill would allow the Attorney General to contract with immigration officials to check voter rolls.
Townsend wrote of Salman in a Facebook post:
In this video, Rep. Salman explains her vote, with a point of order from Rep. John Fillmore. She feels it was a violation of Rule 19 and started talking over Rep. Fillmore. Due to the chaotic nature of the event, I attempted to shut down discussion and move to the vote. She insisted she was in the middle of explaining her vote, however her opinion does not overrule the authority of the chair. I have the authority to cut short her vote explanation, should I deem necessary, according to Mason’s manual, section 805 and 807.
Nevertheless, I afforded her more time if she would stick to the subject of the bill. She proceeded to completely ignore anything I was saying and continued to just keep talking over me, a violation again of the rules and decorum. I have thus brought her up on ethics charges for this violation, which continued to set the tone for the audience that it was okay to completely offend the authority of the Chair. This contributed to the chaos that put every one of us at risk. It is my responsibility as Chair to ensure the decorum and safety of the committee. Her actions compromised that, greatly. That will not be happening again in the future.
Salman called the proceedings “funky:”
“The whole thing’s funky” — @AthenaSalman.
Republicans pass Rep. Fillmore’s voter suppression bill #HB2343 in House Elex despite experts saying requiring ID to drop off early ballots would disenfranchise untold thousands, cost counties untold millions & likely violate fed law. pic.twitter.com/LJRYTYm5a1
— Arizona House Democrats (@AZHouseDems) February 19, 2020
“Representative Diego Rodriguez, in his second offense of breaking committee rules and decorum, left the committee room before the vote was complete,” Townsend wrote on Facebook. “Prior to leaving the room, he took over the microphone to make his comments without being recognized by the chair (any speech in committee goes “through the chair,” meaning you must have permission to speak, every time). He blatantly ignored that several times before he left.
Rodriguez claimed in a tweet that he “walked out of the Elections Committee hearing tonight because I refuse to legitimize the way people were treated and spoken to during the presentation of the final bill.”
I walked out of the Elections Committee hearing tonight because I refuse to legitimize the way people were treated and spoken to during the presentation of the final bill.
I will not stand by while phrases like “you and people like you” are spewed out!
— Diego Rodriguez (@Diego4Justice) February 19, 2020
On Wednesday, House Majority Leader Warren Petersen addressed members on the floor calling the behavior at the hearing the most shameful thing he had witnessed since he was elected to the Legislature. Petersen accused Democrats of breaking various rules during the hearing.