February 2, 2018 / 1:11 AM / in 18 days

Arizona legislature expels lawmaker on 'hostile work environment' claims

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona’s House of Representatives ousted a lawmaker on Thursday after investigators found “credible evidence” that he had created a hostile work environment while serving in the state legislature.

Republican Don Shooter, former chairman of the appropriations committee, was expelled by a vote of 56 to 3 in an emotional floor session.

“We just expelled somebody from this family,” said House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, after casting the final vote to oust Shooter. “But at some point we as elected officials are held to the highest of standards.”

Shooter said in a brief statement on the House floor that he had said and done some “stupid things” in the past, but had faithfully served.

“I stood on the carpet and took it like a man,” he told colleagues. “I apologized. Can’t go back to the past, I can’t change it. But I can change the future if given the opportunity.”

He left the floor after voting “No” on the expulsion resolution and could not be reached later by Reuters for comment.

His removal followed an investigation into claims of sexual harassment made by several women in November 2017.

Shooter, who lost his position as appropriations chairman at that time, was stripped of committee assignments on Tuesday after a law firm hired by the legislature said it found “credible” evidence that he created a hostile work environment.

“His repeated pervasive conduct has created a hostile work environment for his colleagues and those with business before the legislature,” the investigators said.

Reuters has not confirmed any of the allegations.

Mesnard, who until Thursday had sought to censure Shooter, said he had called on Shooter to resign but he refused.

Dozens of high-profile men have been fired or have resigned from their jobs in politics, media, entertainment and business after facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

Some 27 state legislatures in 2016 had formal policies for legislative employees on sexual harassment, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In California, former State Assembly member Raul Bocanegra resigned late last year under pressure from colleagues, as did two members of the Minnesota legislature.

Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Sharon Bernstein

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