On Tuesday, the Arizona State House Committee on Ethics formally determined that Rep. Liz Harris engaged in disorderly conduct, violating rules of the Arizona House of Representatives and “damaging the institutional integrity of the House.”
The Committee’s finding was unanimous, and seems to be shared by many legislative Republicans and Democrats alike.
The Committee has referred its Report to all Members of the House.
Harris received wide criticism for her decision to invite a real estate agent, Jacqueline Fine-Breger, to the February 23rd joint House and Senate Elections Committee meeting. In her bizarre testimony, Fine-Breger, accused multiple elected officials of being associated with Mexican drug cartels.
The Committee found that Harris’ testimony regarding her knowledge of what Fine-Breger would say at the joint hearing was not accurate. In fact, her own text messages showed she was advised about the shocking criminal claims Fine-Breger would make.
The testimony was so shocking and inappropriate that even well-known attorney, Bryan Blehm, an election skeptic who represented the Cyber Ninjas in their conduct of an audit of the 2020 General Election in Maricopa County, argued that the testimony damaged the integrity of the hearing, and that he was “f—– pissed off about it.
On March 23, 2023, the Committee convened and formally adopted Rules of Procedure. On March 30, 2023, the Committee held an evidentiary hearing open to the public and press pursuant to Rule 15 of the Committee’s Rules of Procedure. In anticipation of that hearing, Representative Harris submitted a list of 14 exhibits for the Committee’s consideration.
During that hearing, Harris offered testimony that appeared to be false based on evidence provided, and made statements to avoid responsibility for the debacle.
Perhaps one of the most glaring attempts to avoid responsibility by Harris is detailed in the Ethic Committee’s report:
“About 30 minutes into Breger’s presentation, Senator Ken Bennett made a point of order, stating that the legislative committee hearing was not the appropriate place to make the sort of allegations that Breger’s presentation made. Representative Kolodin added that the House Rules prohibited impugning Members’ motives. Breger continued her presentation, after which Senator Bennett asked how she was invited to speak at the hearing. Breger replied that Representative Harris had invited her, and then Representative Harris made a gesture moving her hand across her neck and mouthed something to Breger. Representative Harris subsequently stated that she hoped that the hearing was being presented by all national networks.
A discussion of the evidence gathered by the Ethics Committee and her false claims are recited in the report (included below in part):
In response to a question asking Representative Harris whether she knew that Breger would “present the information that she presented in that special elections hearing,” Representative Harris responded, “absolutely, positively, one-hundred percent, no.”
Exhibit 5 (the text messages) is particularly insightful on this point and significantly undermines Representative Harris’s testimony that she was unaware of the information that would be presented or that she was “surprised” by it at the time of the Joint Meeting, as she claimed that she was.
To be sure, when Representative Harris asked Breger for a title for the presentation, Breger responded, “We are trying to think of something that won’t raise a red flag.” Although Representative Harris testified that she had “no idea” what that meant her alleged confusion-or any concern about what in the presentation might raise such a flag that they would want to avoid – was not reflected in her reply to Breger. Instead, Representative Harris expressed concern only that Breger’s suggestion was not as vague as she believed it was and would “draw the wrong press.”
Notably, the subsequent text messages indicate that Representative Harris believed that this particular presentation would be the subject of multiple interviews after the Joint Hearing; stated differently, the text suggests that Representative Harris knew the presentation’s contents would pique heightened interests.
Additionally, Representative Harris testified that she had become aware of Breger from a press release about Thaler’s forthcoming book-the same book that Breger had testified was the culmination of their investigation’s findings on the alleged “deed scheme” and alleged briberies that she was presenting about.
Representative Harris also testified that she had spent more than two hours with Breger just four days before the special meeting, looking at her “eyeball to eyeball,” listening to her story, and even crying together over the circumstances. Over the next four days, the evidence shows that Representative Harris had at least one phone call, two online virtual meetings, and an on-going group text with Breger and Thaler.
The Committee also questioned Representative Harris about a lunch that Representative Harris attended in January-weeks before the Joint Hearing-with a former employee of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Representative Harris admitted that the lunch occurred, although she appeared to dispute some of the particulars that occurred at the lunch. Significantly, Representative Harris did not dispute that discussion of an alleged “deed scheme” occurred at the lunch. This indicates that Representative Harris was aware of the criminal allegations relating to an alleged “deed scheme”, the precise subject of Breger’s testimony at the Joint Hearing-at least several weeks before it.
Representative Harris appeared careful to state that she did not know that the bribery claims would be in the handout, but her testimony otherwise supports an inference that she was aware of the findings of the Harris/Thaler investigation, including allegations of bribery of elected officials, and that they would be mentioned during Breger’s presentation. Indeed, despite maintaining that she was prepared for Breger to present information on only boxes of ballots and backdoor portal access, Representative Harris later testified, inconsistently, that she knew that Breger would talk about the deed scheme during the Joint Meeting.
Representative Harris also testified that she instructed Breger to not “impugn any member of the House [or Senate]” or to bring up “any religious institution.” The fact that Representative Harris knew to make that admonition, specifically about those two items, further supports an inference that she knew of their inclusion in Breger’s presentation. In other words, that Representative Harris believed it necessary to make those requests of Breger suggests that she-at the very least-· had reason to believe that they could be included in the presentation.