Journalists’ Roundtable: 5-20-22: Wendy Rogers probe, Juan Mendez investigation

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It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for this week’s Journalists’ Roundtable.

Joining us tonight are Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services, Bob Christie of the Associated Press and Rachel Leingang of the Arizona Agenda.

This weeks Journalists’ Roundtable covered:

  • Ethics investigation into Wendy Roger’s remarks about the Buffalo shooting
  • Ethics investigation into State Senator Juan Mendez for alleged abandonment of office
  • Report of a lawmaker storming out of the Arizona State Capitol building
  • Congressional budget gridlock ahead of session end date
  • Senate vote on vaccine mandate and same-day voter registration bans

What is happening with the Wendy Rogers investigation, and what are the implications against Rogers in this position?

Bob Christie: “The Senate was prepared to do nothing, the Republicans in the Senate, and the Democrats kind of tipped their hand. They went back and gave a heads-up to the Senate president and the Senate leadership, and they scrambled and came up with this ‘ethics investigation,’ which will die a glorious death. They still haven’t set a date for it. This was Monday.”

Howie Fischer: “The question becomes: where does the ability of doing things outside of the Legislature–it’s not like she stood up on the Senate floor and said this— are people entitled to believe that there’s a false-flag operation? Probably. Are they entitled to believe the sun rises in the West? Probably. Is it an offense for which makes you unbecoming of a senator? And that’s where it gets tricky.”

There’s another investigation where Senator Juan Mendez is being accused of abandoning office. Is there an argument for abandonment?

Bob Christie: “He has not been there the entire legislative session. Doesn’t make a difference because he’s a minority Democrat, right? His vote is not critical. If it was a Republican, it would be a huge deal, right? They would have pressured him to probably resign so they could get somebody to replace him.”

Howie Fischer: “He is correct that Juan Mendez has been there for one day, I think it was for the override of the expenditure limit. There is a law that talks about abandonment of office. But, he has an excuse. Excused absences are allowed, he has an excused absence from the Senate president.”

Rachel Leingang: “I think there would have been a very clear one pre-pandemic, and I think that if this were a Republican member and if it was the 16th vote, they probably would have accommodated them with a telework type of option, because it’s quite easy to accommodate telework. We’ve figured it out two years ago. There is an argument there to be made, but I think that they’re not accommodating him simply because they don’t have to.”

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