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GOP committee recommends impeaching Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes in Senate trial

A Republican-led committee at the state Legislature has recommended impeaching Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes and prosecuting her in a Senate trial. 

The five Republicans on the House Ad Hoc Committee on Executive Oversight allege Mayes has abused her power as attorney general to target Republicans. For example, they cite her legal action against Republican supervisors in Cochise County, who were indicted in November for refusing to certify the 2022 election results.

They also accused Mayes of declining to use her authority to support GOP policies and refusing to cooperate with the committee’s investigation. 

“The people of Arizona deserve better from the state’s chief legal officer,” Chairwoman Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa) said in a statement. “Despite the Attorney General’s lack of transparency with the Committee, we have seen and heard enough.”

“I hope all House members will thoroughly review the Committee’s report and findings and agree to impeach Attorney General Mayes and consider other measures outlined in our report to prevent future weaponization of the AG’s Office,” Parker added.

Mayes says that the report is politically driven and an attempt to undermine her office. 

“It’s clear from this report that what this Legislature has are policy differences with me. What they ought to be doing instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on a sham oversight process is doing their own jobs," Mayes said.  

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mayes said the report released by “the sham House ad hoc oversight committee isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.”

“This partisan stunt by far-right members of the Legislature makes a mockery of real legislative oversight,” spokesperson Riche Taylor said. “It is based on nothing more than political and policy disagreements that legislators like Rep. Jacqueline Parker have with Attorney General Mayes.”

Taylor added that Mayes will continue to do her work and “will not be deterred” by Republican lawmakers.

House Republicans hold a one-vote majority — enough to impeach Mayes on a party-line vote. 

But it’d take a two-thirds majority vote of the state Senateto remove her from office, an unlikely scenario in a chamber where split 16-14 among Republicans and Democrats.

The House Ad Hoc Committee on Executive Oversight was established in March to “scrutinize” Mayes and “other state officials,” although the committee has only investigated Mayes so far. 

In addition to five Republicans, three Democrats were appointed to the committee, but they never showed up to its meetings in protest.

The committee has also criticized Mayes for discouraging Republican supervisors in other Arizona counties from conducting hand counts of ballots. In November, Mayes sent a letter to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors and warned that the effort would be illegal and result in prosecution. Ultimately, the board decided against a hand count. But the Republican legislative committee called Mayes’ actions an abuse of power.

The committee also recommends that the legislature scrutinizes appropriations made to the Attorney General’s Office, continues their oversight of Mayes and passes law next session to prevent “further weaponization” of the office.

The oversight committee’s report also criticized a consumer alert, sent by Mayes, warning about “crisis pregnancy centers,” facilities that try to dissuade women from getting abortions. They wrote that her alert was “filled with deception, fraud and misrepresentations about Arizona organizations providing health care services to women.”

Mayes has also declined to defend laws in court that she does not support, such as one that would ban transgender girls from playing on girls sports teams. 

The committee said Mayes neglects her duty by refusing to defend those laws.

Most recently, Mayes hosted a series of town halls in rural areas, preparing for a public nuisance lawsuit against large farms and dairies pumping a significant amount of groundwater. She said it’s caused resident wells to run dry and opened dangerous fissures in the earth. Mayes also accused Republicans at the state Legislature of not doing enough to protect groundwater, and pledged to send something to the ballot on the issue if they do not act soon.

The oversight committee argued that Arizona law protects farms from nuisance lawsuits and that Mayes is abusing public funds for electioneering.

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