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Sen. Rogers obtains injunction against Arizona Capitol Times reporter

Wendy Rogers
Wendy Rogers at a Border 911 press conference at the Arizona State Capitol in January 2023.

Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers obtained an injunction against harassment against a reporter investigating whether Rogers lives in the northern Arizona legislative district she was elected to represent.

A judge at the Flagstaff Justice Court granted the petition on Wednesday, ordering Arizona Capitol Times reporter Camryn Sanchez to not contact Rogers at her residence.

Where exactly that residence is is now the question. According to property records uncovered by Sanchez, Rogers and her husband recently bought a home in Chandler. Around the time of the sale, Rogers signed documents claiming she resides in Tempe, far from Legislative District 7, which includes Flagstaff, Payson, Show Low and Williams.

Rogers listed her address as “confidential” on the injunction.

As pointed out by the Capitol Times, Rogers’ residency has both legal and financial implications.

An editor for the Capitol Times declined to comment on the action taken against one of its reporters.

The Arizona Constitution requires legislators to live in the county they will represent for at least one year prior to election or appointment. Rogers was elected to represent LD7 in Coconino County, while her prior home in Tempe and new home in Chandler both fall within Maricopa County.

But according to state statute, a lawmaker's home is where “his habitation is fixed and to which he has the intention of returning when absent.” 

That word — “intention” — has made it difficult in the past to win legal challenges alleging a lawmaker doesn’t reside in the legislative district they’re running to represent.

However, the financial benefit to Rogers has been substantial thanks to the difference in per diem payments made to lawmakers who reside in Maricopa County and those who live in one of Arizona’s other 14 counties. Between March 31, 2022, and Jan 6, 2023, Rogers collected $19,754 in per diem, according to the Capitol Times. That’s on top of the $24,000 salary paid to state lawmakers.

A lawmaker residing in Maricopa County would have collected only $3,010 over that same period of time, according to the Capitol Times.

In a statement, Rogers described herself as feeling physically threatened by Sanchez, particularly after the reporter approached her home at night.

“I don't know this reporter personally, I don't know what she is capable of, and I don't believe anyone in their right mind would show up uninvited to my home at night,” Rogers said. “Therefore, I don't trust that this person wouldn't lash out and try to physically harm me in some fashion.”

On Twitter, she accused Sanchez of “stalking me and my neighbors,” and posted pictures of Sanchez ringing doorbells, apparently at Rogers’ property in Tempe and Chandler.

Sanchez did in fact visit both residences, according to the Capitol Times, which quoted an anonymous neighbor in Tempe who said Rogers had lived in the house for more than a decade.

It’s not the first time Rogers has bristled at Sanchez’s coverage. In March, she asked Senate leadership to revoke Sanchez’s access to the Senate floor, a standard privilege for reporters at the Capitol. Sen. President Warren Petersen declined Rogers’ request, but did direct Sanchez not to approach Rogers on the Senate floor, according to the Capitol Times.

Petersen did, however, advise Rogers to file an injunction against Sanchez after the reporter showed up at Rogers’ Maricopa County properties. 

A spokesperson for the Arizona Senate told the Capitol Times that “at this point, the Senate does not plan to revoke the reporter’s credentials for floor privileges.”

The injunction only bars Sanchez from contacting Rogers at her residences, not her workplace.

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.