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GOP-led ethics panel investigates 2 House Democrats for 'disorderly' behavior

A GOP-led panel Wednesday investigated claims that Democrats in the Arizona House of Representatives engaged in disorderly conduct when they shouted at Republican colleagues for blocking efforts to repeal a near-total abortion ban in state law. 

In April, Democrats made the first of several attempts to repeal Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban after it was upheld by the state Supreme Court. Republicans used procedural maneuvers to block that initial effort. 

In response, Democrats chanted, “shame” and “blood on your hands” at Republicans from across the House floor, and Reps. Analise Ortiz (D-Phoenix) and Oscar de los Santos (D-Laveen) shouted and interrupted an interview one GOP lawmaker was holding with reporters. 

Three Republicans filed an ethics complaint against Ortiz and de los Santos. They argued their behavior was frightening, and likened the scene to an insurrection and a riot.

Republican Rep. Barbara Parker (R-Mesa) told the ethics panel the situation felt dangerous.

“I want to make it very clear, I was indeed frightened, I was indeed threatened, I was indeed intimidated, alarmed and aghast. A plethora of emotions,” Parker told the panel.

Parker said she wanted to leave the room, but the press gaggle was going on right by her desk and her things were still there. 

“What I found to my horror was that I had left my laptop open,” she said. She said that as a health professional, she’s trained to assess a situation, and she determined by seeing bulging neck veins and flushed faces that the Democrats could have escalated the situation.

But the Democrats’ attorney, Jim Barton, told the ethics panel that the Republicans were more offended than afraid.

“There is a problem that we have in America right now of people saying that they don't feel safe when they feel challenged,” Barton said.

He said his clients do not apologize, though it’s not necessarily behavior they would repeat.

The Republican-led committee did not take any immediate action, but Chairman Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale) said the Democrat’s behavior should not be tolerated.

Chaplik also said he found it disrespectful that Ortiz and De Los Santos didn’t attend the hearing. He noted that he might subpoena them in the future. 

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Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.