We stand with locally-elected Rep. Becky Nutt on her decision last week not to take action on numerous complaints filed against Oro Valley Rep. Mark Finchem.
Rep. Nutt (R-Clifton) is the chairwoman of the Legislature’s House Ethics Committee, a prestigious and powerful position on a governing board that bears the responsibility of reviewing complaints against lawmakers. The findings of the ethics committee can condemn a legislator — as it did to former Yuma Rep. Don Shooter when he was expelled in 2018 — or clear a lawmaker of actionable wrongdoing.
Nutt issued a written statement last week that pointed to an important principle guiding her decision not to pursue complaints against Rep. Finchem.
She stated: “…But the ethics committee is not — and cannot become — a forum for resolving political disagreement, no matter how important the issues at stake.”
Democrats, of course, ripped the decision and have introduced a resolution seeking to expel Finchem. The ethics complaint focused on a statement he posted on his Twitter feed while attending the Jan. 6 riot at the nation’s capitol that the violence was the result of Congress refusing to acknowledge rampant fraud in the Nov. 3, 2020 presidential election.
Nutt said she received more than 80 complaints regarding Finchem’s statements surrounding the election, but none contained any factual evidence of wrongdoing.
Essentially, Democrats are supporting the idea that an elected lawmaker can be the subject of an ethics complaint, or expelled from the Legislature, for their opinion.
While there has been much to dislike about many of the opinions expressed by Rep. Finchem, we — and Democrats should — respect the will of voters who elected him on Nov. 3, 2020. His outspoken efforts to regulate teachers and relentless attempts to expand school vouchers are just two of numerous examples of Rep. Finchem’s aggressively conservative views.
But arguing that his opinions are unethical, or that his attendance at the Jan. 6 rally-turned-riot was egregious despite no wrongdoing, is comparable to George Orwell’s “Thought Police” in his novel 1984.
Nutt is standing on solid ground when she states that the ethics committee cannot become a tool of politicians who seek to punish fellow legislators with differing opinions.
Her objectivity on this issue and her refusal to use the committee as a partisan “weapon,” are praiseworthy.