By BOB CHRISTIE, Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) — Two Arizona lawmakers are facing ethics complaints that one of their attorneys said was sparked by a bitter divorce involving the Scottsdale man who filed them and his apparent intent to take revenge on anyone related to his ex-wife.
Complaints filed by Phillip Potter allege that Democratic Representative Robert Meza engaged in fraud and public corruption schemes over the past decade, and that Democratic Senator Lisa Otondo helped cover up Meza.
The Senate Ethics Committee met Monday to consider the complaint against Otondo but took no action other than to extend the time it has to review the case until its House counterpart has the possibility of examining the Meza case. The House Ethics Committee has not scheduled a hearing on this complaint.
Meza’s Phoenix attorney, Tim Nelson, said the allegations against his client were false and that Potter had scoured them for years as part of an effort to get revenge on anyone who had anything to do with his ex wife.
Those efforts included providing all of the information in the complaint to federal investigators, who Nelson said took no action. He also raised them in a 135-page lawsuit accusing his ex-wife, Meza and more than a dozen others of conspiring to support a protective order his ex-wife obtained against him. The lawsuit also named health care companies and a major utility for their alleged involvement in the fraud.
“Every allegation that is in the Ethics Committee complaints was also in the Superior Court litigation, and the Superior Court dismissed them all in their entirety,” Nelson said. “And we expect ethics committees to do the same.”
Potter did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Otondo also did not immediately return calls and emails seeking comment.
At Monday’s Senate Ethics Committee meeting, both Democrats on the panel complained that the case should be thrown out immediately.
“The Senate Ethics Committee did not and should not engage in a fishing expedition,” said Senator Victoria Steele.
“If there is (alleged unethical conduct) and there is sufficient evidence to continue, then they should continue,” Steele said. “But not simply on the basis of suggestions, innuendos, suspicions or conspiracy theories.”
But Republican Senator Sine Kerr, chairman of the committee, said the committee had good reason to extend the time it had to assess the complaint, “and that’s all we’re doing here today.”
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