PHOENIX — The chair of the House Ethics Committee won't pursue a complaint by Rep. Mark Finchem against Democrat lawmakers.
Rep. Becky Nutt, R-Clifton on Friday pointed out how she had dismissed 82 complaints that had been filed against the Oro Valley Republican, concluding there was nothing there that merited further examination. They all had raised allegations about his activities leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and what he did there that day.
Finchem responded with his own complaint earlier this week, saying the Democrats acted improperly in a separate move in which they had asked the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate him.
Nutt, in a letter to Finchem, said that his complaint suffers from the same shortcomings at the ones leveled against him.
"The ethics committee is not an arena for waging political contests,'' she wrote. "That is true whether the subject of a complaint are individuals Republicans (as before) or nearly the entire Democratic caucus (as here).''
Nutt was careful to say she was reaching no conclusion on Finchem's contention that the Democrats, in seeking a federal inquiry, had violated federal laws about public officials making false statements.
"The ethics committee also is not a court of law,'' she told Finchem.
"So, while I express no view on the legal merits of Rep. Finchem's claims, I also conclude that the ethics committee should take no action.''
Nutt's decision does not entirely end the matter.
Finchem filed the same complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against the 14 Democrats in that chamber who signed the request to the FBI and Department of Justice for an investigation. Sen. Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, who chairs that panel, is not expected to respond until this coming week.
But the Senate has slightly different rules. Even if Kerr were to decide not to pursue the matter, she could be overruled if three of the five members of the committee — made up of three Republicans and two Democrats — vote to pursue it.
Finchem did not immediately respond to a request for comment.