Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 28, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Ethics Committee


  • The Arizona State Ethics Committee meets today to determine if they will investigate the ethics complaint filed against Sen. Jack Harper of Surprise. Sen. Ken Cheuvront of Phoenix filed the complaint, alleging Harper, acting as Chairman, cut off a debate concerning same-sex marriage on the final night of the legislative session. The committee's chairman, Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, discusses the committee's decision.
Guests:
  • Senator Jay Tibshraeny - Chairman of the State Senate Ethics Committee


View Transcript
>>Ted Simons:
Good evening, and thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon", I'm Ted Simons. The state senate ethics committee met today to determine whether to dismiss or proceed with an ethics complaint by Senator Ken Cheuvront of Phoenix against Senator Jack Harper of Surprise. We are going to show you exactly what happened but first let's set the stage. Senator Cheuvront was engaged in a discussion with Senator Paula Aboud of Tucson on the floor of the committee of the whole. Senator Harper was acting as chairman. Here's what happened.

>>Ken Cheuvront:
I'm going to read on a little bit later. The question I have, Mr. Chairman, Senator Aboud, how do you think an increase in the sales tax would affect not only the retail classification, but also the prime contractor sales classification?

>> Paula Aboud:
Well, that's --

>>Jack Harper: O
ne second. It clicked on the wrong thing; I clicked on the clear mics. If you'd like to speak go ahead and push your buttons again. Okay, I see, Senator Verschoor, you have the floor.

>>Thayer Verschoor:
Mr. Chairman, I move that this bill -- that this bill and the rest of the bills be retained on the calendar.

>>Jack Harper:
You heard that motion, is there any discussion? All those in favor say aye.

>> Aye.

>> Any opposed say nay.

>> Point of order.

>> Point of order!

>> Point of order!

>> That is not permissible.

>> I've had my mike off for some time.

>>Jack Harper:
Thank you Senator Verschoor. The chair recognizes Senator Verschoor.

>>Thayer Verschoor:
Mr. Chairman, I move the committee as a whole rise and report.

>>Jack Harper:
You heard that motion, is there any discussion? All in favor say aye.

>>Jack Harper:
Any opposed say nay.

>>Jack Harper:
The ayes appear to have it, so ordered.

>>Ted Simons:
Joining me now with an update on the incident, the Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, Senator Jay Tibshraeny. Thanks for joining us.

>>Jay Tibshraeny: Thanks for having me.

>>Ted Simons:
Our committee today had a preliminary hearing. What happened?

>> Jay Tibshraeny:
We had a hearing today of the Senate Ethics Committee, comprised of five senate members. It was not a hearing on whether an ethical violation was committed. It was strictly whether to dismiss the case or go further in terms of having another hearing. That's what we were doing today. The committee voted 3-2 not to dismiss the charges but to proceed to the next hearing.

>>Ted Simons:
And you voted to proceed. Why?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I think at this stage I wanted to hear some testimony, which today we couldn't take any testimony because of the nature of the hearing today. So to let some people talk and to air this out a little, I thought that was the fairest thing to do. So that was the reason for my vote. It wasn't a vote of implying anything one way or the other, but really a vote to listen and get some more facts out.

>>Ted Simons:
What are the rules on the senate floor, when a microphone is either cut intentionally or simply drops out? Is that it? Are you out of luck the minute you're not amplified anymore?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I don't think we have a specific rule on that particular thing, at least that I have seen so far. But again, we'll be looking at all this. That's probably something that'll possibly come up as we proceed and talk about this. How do you deal with an issue like that, and what's the proper way to do that?

>>Ted Simons:
Was there a vote ahead of time to limit debate?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
Not that I recall.

>>Ted Simons:
Okay. Were you aware or had you heard of anything at all that suggested something like this might happen?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
No.

>>Ted Simons:
Okay.

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
No, I wasn't.

>>Ted Simons:
You understand how there are those saying that Senators Harper and Verschoor were somehow in cahoots on this. Any thoughts?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I've heard that and I think as we proceed on--I think that's what the Senate Ethics Committee wants to look at. There's a lot of allegations on both sides of this issue going back and forth. We have to kind of ferret out fact from fiction. We don't want anybody's good name to be besmirched one way or the other. That'll be part of our job as we look at this and proceed forward. We hear a lot of things. You hear a lot of things down there, anyway.

>>Ted Simons:
We've heard from Senator Harper who initially apologized. Oops, I pressed the wrong button. We just heard that on the tape. He now says the debate was out of order, it was a stalling technique and these sorts of things. He's already talked about this. Your thoughts?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
He's talked a little bit about it. The way the process worked is there was a formal complaint filed with my office last Monday, the 21st. Senator Harper did put together a response on Wednesday, the 23rd. He talks about what happened and that response. That's part of the record now that we'll be working from.

>>Ted Simons:
The word dilatory was the word I was looking for. Give us the rules on that, as far as filibusters and debate.

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
There are certain rules about what you can and can't do. I don't have the book in front of me. We'll look at that. But that was the response in his response, is that it was dilatory and he was stopping that.

>>Ted Simons:
Senator Cheuvront suggested or recommended a reprimand. Is that as far as something like this will likely go? Could it go even further?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I don't like to speculate on things, because that's assuming something's going to happen that may or may not happen. But yeah, in the complaint from Cheuvront, he's recommending, I believe, a reprimand for Senator Harper.

>>Ted Simons:
What happens to someone who is formally reprimanded? What are the results?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
If you have that kind of recommendation, or any recommendation other than dismissal, that would require further action, it would go to the full body of the senate.

>>Ted Simons: And again, if the full body of the senate decides on a reprimand?

>>Jay Tibshraeny: They would not decide on that unless the committee recommended that.

>>Ted Simons: Indeed. I'm just trying to figure out, what kind of consequences are there for someone found guilty, for lack of a better word here, or at least responsible for cutting off the mic during a debate and is subsequently reprimanded.

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I think it's a public reprimand by the body. Again this is kind of new territory. My understanding that has no legal consequences to whoever may be involved with that. But it is a strong statement from the body that those actions weren't appreciated and won't be tolerated.

>>Ted Simons:
There are some who are suggesting that turning off the mic was simply an honest mistake. Again, your thoughts?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
My thoughts on that is that's something we're going to be talking about as we proceed further with this. We are going to have another hearing and we'll ferret through all this stuff. I'm sure we'll come up with a just and fair discussion and resolution of the issue.

>>Ted Simons:
The activities on that afternoon, just in general, regardless of who winds up with what regarding the ethics committee, but just as someone who is down there as a senator: your thoughts.

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
That week -- and I think I said this a few weeks ago when I was on this program on another issue -- that week was probably not the best way we wanted to see the senate represented week. But that sometimes happens in bodies like that. We'll deal with that.

>>Ted Simons:
What's next here? When is the next hearing? Where do we go from here?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
By the end of the week we will have established the hearing date. There may be an interim meeting of the committee next week, just to set some procedures and guidelines that we can follow in that hearing. Right now, again, I have to sit down with the rules attorney and develop some guidelines for the committee. Then the committee would probably need to adopt those guidelines. It's kind of a moving target. We hope next week maybe the committee would meet to develop and work on the procedures and guidelines. Tentatively two weeks from now would be the time to have the hearing. We don't want to draw this out, we want to move as expeditiously as we can, working around senators' schedules. Some are heading out of town tomorrow for a conference. So we're going to work through that. We're already coordinating dates so we can move this very expeditiously.

>>Ted Simons:
Real quickly, you were the only Republican to go ahead and vote to proceed, along with two Democrats. The other two Republicans saying no. Are you getting a little bit of the business for this?

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
I'm sure, no matter how you vote on this, I would have gotten a little bit of a business. I've got to do my job as the senate ethics chairman. I want to shed a good light on the senate, and I think we will. I have to vote my conscience. It's no reflection on Senator Harper at this stage of the game.

>>Ted Simons:
Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

>>Jay Tibshraeny:
Thank you.

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