By now there has been a great deal of media attention focused on accusations that State Representative David Cook had an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist (AnnaMarie Knorr) and that he had been a party to bribing a county sheriff. In spite of the hearsay nature of the first complaint and the grudge carried by the filer of the second, it has been only recently that the media has begun to focus on what now appears to be little more than a vendetta being waged against Cook and his family by Knorr’s nearly ex-husband and the lobbyist’s own father, Bas Aja, one of the Capitol’s more powerful lobbyists himself.
Aja’s connections to House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Bowers hand-selecting a new House Ethics Chairman (Rep John Allen) for just Cook’s case raised some eyebrows, as did Allen’s hiring of a large and very liberal law firm and, specifically, a lead attorney nationally recognized for his attacks on Republicans.
In late March, Arizona State Rep. Noel Campbell blasted Allen and his House Ethics Committee for lacking ethics themselves and mistreating Cook. Cook also defended himself in a message to his colleagues in which he outlined the abuses of the entire process.
Now, Cook’s wife Diana, has sent an email to House legislators describing the state of siege the Cook family is under, and much of what has occurred is shocking to read.
“I wanted you all to know some of the more shocking details and the effects that all of this has had on me and us as a family.” started Diana Cook, writing further along that “This has been a fishing expedition where it has always been clear that the goal was to “get” my husband for something… Anything… It has been allowed to be driven by a man who is deservedly losing his wife and who has teamed up with possibly one of the worst fathers I could imagine.” referring to AnnaMarie Knorr’s husband and father (Aja). Diana Cook went on to describe the family’s close knit friendship with Knorr and how they have worked to protect her from her family, and the price they continue to pay as a result. “The price we have paid has been steep. I’m not talking about dumb media stories. Those are mostly written by people who hate David because of his politics and I’m sure you all get to be on the receiving end of those now and again as well. I’m talking about the loss of privacy because of how we are incessantly stalked by private investigators working for either the Committee’s lawyers or the lousy husband or father. I’m talking about having people stake out your home or follow you on errands. The scary part is they carry weapons and I fear for not only our safety, but that of our children.”
Diana Cook detailed occasions where someone was trying to come over the back wall of their home to spy on David Cook and how she “…got to hear later about the chase, the calls to the police department, the pictures that were taken, and the ultimate identification of the investigator – although it is still not clear who his client is. How about seeing a car parked across the street in our house in Apache Junction (where our daughter is staying most times by herself) with the hood up, like they were having car troubles, except for hours. When David walked across to offer help or water the stranger claimed to be a police officer, flashed a gun, and warned David that its dangerous to just walk up to people. Really? To a person in a residential neighborhood with his car hood up? More calls to the police, more pictures. Then seeing the same car staking your family out again days later in the next county over?”
Diana Cook also related that the investigators for the Ethics Committee are casting such a wide net in hopes of finding something, anything, on David Cook, that they subpoenaed the phone records to the family’s business account at Verizon and got copies of all of the texts and calls made by or sent to David’s phone, even the vast majority of the calls had nothing to do with any of the charges or the people associated with the charges.
“Even in a criminal trial the police would need a warrant for an invasion of privacy like that. We don’t have anything to hide, but we didn’t give up our rights when David got elected to public office, did you?” asked Cook of the members, adding “Welcome to life these days for the Cooks…”
Mrs. Cook closed by writing that “These are bad people, these are bullies, and they are using your State House, your process, your committees, and our tax dollars to pursue David, all because one pretty important lobbyist decided he could use that method to target a foe. I don’t have a vote there, and I can’t do a thing to fix all of this. I just want you all to know that we’re not going to quit standing by our friends and I hope you eventually get around to fixing things so that this doesn’t happen again to you or another member.”
Cook is expected to be interviewed by the attorneys for the committee next week but there is no indication yet how long the process will drag on. Cook’s opponents appear to be dragging the process out just so that it can damage his standing with the voters in the August primary, but with sine die approaching and everyone involved in the complaints agreeing that nothing improper occurred, it is uncertain how long the process itself might last. One legal analyst said it was possible that sine die would prevent the Committee from meeting at all, meaning they might not dismiss the complaints until 2021 when the Legislature reconvenes.