The Arizona Republic is reporting that House Ethics Chairman John Allen has decided to reverse course and will allow representative David Cook to present witnesses in his defense as part of the ethics investigation into alleged improprieties. Chairman Allen and the committee had previously indicated that Cook would not be allowed to offer any defense with the exception of a written rebuttal to the original investigator’s report, and no more than one hour of remarks by Cook or his attorneys, to the committee.
This suspension of due process drew swift rebuke from other House members as well as Cook’s attorneys, who have referred to the allegations and investigation as a potentially libelous “sham”.
The reversal by Allen also comes on the heels of a letter sent to the committee and other members by AnnaMarie Knorr, the lobbyist at the center of the investigation. In her letter, Knorr reminded the committee that the entire process had been largely driven by her father, Bas Aja, a powerful lobbyist, who held a strong grudge against Cook because of the Cook family’s ongoing support of Knorr. Her letter also made the committee aware that in sworn testimony, Aja indicated that he was not the person responsible for sending anonymous packages filled with copies of personal letters from Cook to Knorr, to various members of the media. It was his sworn testimony that he gave those stolen letters only to House Speaker Rusty Bowers and his Chief of Staff, Michael Hunter, which raised the distinct possibility that Bowers and or Hunter were the source of the leak. The same Arizona Republic story indicated that a spokesman for Bowers denied the accusation.
Voters in Cook’s district as well as members of the House, will now finally get the benefit of open testimony, presumably under oath, from the major figures in this story — news the Cook team considers a major victory.