On Wednesday, Arizona State Rep. David Cook announced that he was finally clear of what he called a “bogus House Ethics Committee investigation.” While the investigation had been on life support for some time, many believe that the sudden and unexpected end was related to increasing chatter that the office of House Speaker Rusty Bowers may have been very involved in targeting Cook.
Just last week, Rep. Noel Campbell revealed in an email sent to Arizona State House members, that the office of House Speaker Rusty Bowers was involved in leaking information about the investigation to the media. The end of the investigation ends what many members, as well as Cook, believed was a blatant “political hit job.”
Cook himself noted, “If there were any real questions about this being a little more than a political hit job, the committee waited and waited and waited until the day that primary election ballots drop in the mail, before trying to trash my reputation one more time through negative press coverage. Then they bolted for the exit.”
There is no word yet on what this political exercise has cost the taxpayers, but State Representative Kelly Townsend has filed a public records request to determine how much was wasted in total.
For his part, the conservative Cook has a three-way Republican primary for two State House seats in rural Legislative District 8, along with liberal Frank Pratt and California transplant and political newcomer Neal Carter, who describes himself as conservative but is largely unknown in Arizona political circles.
Cook made his announcement on Facebook:
Some great news to report – Finally clear of that bogus House Ethics Committee investigation!
Many of you know that I have spent the last six months defending myself against false allegations filed with the House Ethics Committee. I am glad to report that they have all been dismissed, but I’m still upset that this process was abused to do as much political damage and personal damage to me and my reputation as possible. Thanks to testimony, we now know that it all originated with an embittered ex-husband and his father-in-law, a prominent capital lobbyist. Under oath, the lobbyist denied being the source of anonymous leaks to the media that were designed to kick this entire process off, and he claimed the leaks came from the House Speaker’s office itself. The Speaker’s Office claims he is lying, but one of the reasons this whole charade was ended now was to ensure that I would never have the opportunity to call witnesses or to present any sort of defense. So we don’t ever get to go find the truth and let the public know. That lack of due process is both unjust and un-American.
If there were any real questions about this being a little more than a political hit job, the committee waited and waited and waited until the day that primary election ballots drop in the mail, before trying to trash my reputation one more time through negative press coverage. Then they bolted for the exit.
Diana and I really want to thank all of the great people out there who have supported us and recognized this for what it was. In spite of the distractions, I never stopped giving 100% to the voters of this great district, and I never will. Rest assured that I and other members will press for real reforms so that this process will not be weaponized again for political purposes in the future.
Cook’s attorneys Chanel Horne and Dennis Wilenchik issued a statement after being notified by the House:
It was a political hit job. This committee chairman recognized that there was no case, and frankly knew that for months, but abused his power.
We are happy for Representative Cook that this charade has finally ended, but terribly upset that the committee went to so much trouble to prevent him from being able to publicly defend himself. As the various accused parties have repeatedly said, both verbally and in writing, there were no violations of any kind that took place, and a full and complete dismissal of the charges was incredibly long overdue.
We strongly urge members of the Arizona House of Representatives to overhaul the ethics process, enact actual rules, and establish procedures to rein in both rogue prosecutions and Chairmen in the future.
Representative Cook said he was glad “it is over, but feels like the man who asked, “now where do I go to get my reputation back?”