A former legislative staffer has filed an ethics complaint and a hostile work environment complaint alleging Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-LD6) harassed the employee for not working from home while on medical leave for COVID-19 and previously asked him to perform campaign work while he was on the clock for the State Senate.
The staffer, M.P., also alleges Rogers previously frequently made disparaging remarks about his weight, commented about his lesbian sister, opined about the fact one of his family members is a liberal, and criticized a Saint Michael statue kept in his office.
Rogers was elected to the senate during the 2020 General Election. She was a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, leaving the service in 1996 after 20 years.
In his notarized statement, M.P. says he self-quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 3. He returned to work Jan. 14, but says he resigned the same day under duress when Rogers apparently ordered him to be fired.
“When I had COVID-19, Senator Rogers demanded that I should be working and when I told her that I couldn’t work she got upset,” M.P. states. “Every day of those ten days she pestered me to work and told me to do work stuff. I informed her that I was sick and that I will get it done when I start working again.”
On Jan. 8, M.P. received medical clearance to go back to work although he remained on medication. He says he contacted Rogers, as instructed by other staff, about his plan to return to the office the next Monday.
“She said and I quote ‘My bullshit detector is going off’ and started to question whether or not I really had/have COVID-19,” he states.
M.P. did not start back to work Jan. 11 as planned. Instead, he says he reached out to Rogers again on Jan. 13 about going back the next day.
“I texted Senator Rogers that I was back to 100% and that I was ready to get back to work,” the notarized statement says. “Senator Roger called me angry, she asked me ‘What have you been doing the past two weeks? Sitting on your butt doing nothing?’”
He also alleges Rogers told him “You work for me, if I text you and ask to get something [done] you get it done!”
But when M.P. reported to work Jan. 14 things did not go as expected. First, he found things were missing from his desk and other items were out of place. Later that day Rogers insisted on meeting with him privately, even though he claims to have asked that another staffer be present, according to his statement.
“Senator Rogers closed the door and began talking,” the complaint says. “She told me that she was glad to hear (he was back) but was disappointed that I wasn’t working while I was at home. “
They also discussed the fact the senator had removed personal items from his desk.
“She proceeded to explain to me how my belongings were junk and that I should think of my office as the barracks and that junk doesn’t belong in barracks,” he wrote. “I expressed to her that I felt very disrespected and that I believe that my Saint Michael’s statue needed to stay in my office because he represented what she ran on which was; Pro Military, Pro Police, and Pro God.”
When the young man expressed concern about being disrespected by Rogers, she reportedly yelled at M.P., saying “we are at war Mikey, do you not understand that? You do not understand half of what I know. You were not told about what is going to be happening in the coming months.”
At that point, M.P. says he began to be concerned about his safety and asked to have another staffer come into the office. He says when Rogers refused, he went to the door anyway and “frantically called” for someone to come in but when the staffer approached the door Rogers allegedly slammed it shut.
At that point, the senator allegedly told the young man that “You work for me. What do you not understand about that?”
“I responded by saying I work for the State of Arizona and her people,” he notes, adding that it “might not have been the smartest move.”
Later that day M.P. was informed by another staff member that he was being terminated and that she did not have to explain why. He was then given the option of resigning instead.
“I was forced to make a decision right then and there without any explanation,” he wrote. “While packing up my office I notice that when Senator Rogers was throwing my belongings into the drawer she cracked the edge of the base of my Eagle Scout Medal Crystal Award.”
He says he was told by other staffers that the damage would be paid for by the Senate “since Senator Rogers broke it. I then finished packing up my office and left the Arizona State Senate.”
The young man’s complaint has been forwarded to other members of the legislature. It could be weeks before any public action is taken on the issue.