Arizona House Representative. Leezah Soleil resigned Wednesday moments before House members voted on whether to expel him.
First-term lawmaker from West Valley Legislative District 22 is gone following an ethics report which revealed that she had engaged in a series of threats and abuses of power.
His resignation also followed an ethics complaint filed by Democratic leaders and two hearings, in December and January, as part of the House Ethics Committee investigation. In one of the report’s key findings, the five-member committee found that Sun told a group of lobbyists at a conference in Tucson in August that if she saw a certain Tolleson official, “I will slap her, throw her over the balcony and kill her.
Sun strongly denied making a death threat, saying she only said she would “slap” the woman. But the committee didn’t believe her, instead siding with witnesses who said on Jan. 25 that they heard Sun’s statement and didn’t believe she was joking.
The complaint accused Sun of using foul language and intimidation tactics during a June meeting with Tolleson City Hall officials; send friend requests on Instagram to family members of civil servants; interfere with a custody dispute; he threatened a school principal with a legislative investigation, then retaliated against the principal by attending a board meeting on January 9 to complain about her testimony about him.
House members were beginning their session Wednesday when Democratic House Speaker Robbie Sherwood told the media that Sun had resigned. A written account of the day’s events included information about a possible vote to oust Sun, as well as a House resolution to expel Sun had been drafted with a view to the likelihood of expulsion. House Speaker Ben Toma, R-Glendale, announced his resignation before adjourning the brief session.
Sun was not immediately available for comment.
After the floor session, Democratic leader Rep. Lupe Contreras, D-Avondale, told reporters that Sun emailed a letter of resignation shortly after the floor session began. Contreras declined to say whether he or other leaders had spoken to Sun about his resignation and appeared uncomfortable when asked if an expulsion vote was likely. He simply said the resignation was “his decision.”
“I just want our members to be able to move forward and work at this point,” he said. “And that’s what we’re going to do.”
Sun’s expulsion would have required bipartisan cooperation for a two-thirds vote in the House.
Rep. Justin Wilmeth, R-Phoenix, said he was prepared to vote to expel Sun before learning of his resignation.
“Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, when you pull these stunts, you need to get out of here,” he said.
House Democrats have lost three members to resignations in recent days. Rep. Amish Shah, a Phoenix Democrat who served three terms in Legislative District 5 and is currently running for Congress, announced his resignation during the floor session. Rep. Jennifer Longdon, a Phoenix Democrat who also served three terms, resigned Friday for a job in health care policy.
Contreras said he expected a “swift” replacement process by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. State law requires replacements to come from the same political party.
This article was originally published on Arizona Republic: Rep. Leezah Sun resigns from Arizona Legislature