No Immunity After AZ Lawmaker Brags He Drives 140 MPH, Ducey Says
May 18, 2020
PHOENIX, AZ — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is pushing for a statewide vote as early as next year to end constitutional protections that give lawmakers immunity in certain circumstances, including for traffic citations. Ducey is calling for “needed reform” after an Arizona lawmaker claimed legislative immunity when a sheriff’s deputy stopped him for speeding in March, and boasted that he sometimes drives as fast as 140 mph.
Ducey signed an executive order last week that directs state troopers to cite lawmakers if they violate traffic laws, but he wants to make the change permanent in the Arizona Constitution by putting it to a referendum vote.
Quoting Theodore Roosevelt, who said “no man is above the law and no man is below it,” Ducey tweeted that “we must make sure those words hold true in Arizona today.”
“I intend to work in collaboration with the Legislature to address this as one of our first orders of business next session, by referring this to the people,” he wrote. “There is bipartisan support for this needed reform.”
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A body camera video obtained by television station KLPZ shows state Rep. Paul Mosley, a Republican from Lake Havasu City, telling a La Paz County sheriff’s deputy that he sometimes drives as fast as 140 mph as he rushes to get home from the state capitol to surprise his wife. Mosley’s district near the California border is about 150 miles west of Phoenix.
“I don’t break the law because I can, but because, you know, I’m just trying to get home,” Mosley said, according to the video.
When he was stopped, Mosley was driving 97 mph hour in a 55 mph zone.
Though he wasn’t ticketed, the mess cost Mosley, who is seeking re-election, the endorsement of the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police.
“Rep. Mosley’s recklessness, his demeanor and his utter disregard for the safety of the public represent the exact opposite of what the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police looks for in an elected official,” the group’s president, John Ortolano, said in a statement. “Potentially lethal speeding isn’t a joke. We will not stand with those who think it’s acceptable or funny to risk the lives of others while behind the wheel of a lethal weapon.”
In signing the executive order, Ducey said: “No one is above the law, and certainly not politicians. Everyone should know that, but clearly a reminder is needed. Public safety must come first, and we have a responsibility to ensure that our officers are supported in enforcing the law, and have the tools, under the Constitution, to hold all bad actors accountable. This executive order will provide Arizona’s officers with the support and trust they need to exercise their professional judgment and expertise without regard for an individual’s political stature.”
The March incident wasn’t the first time Mosley escaped getting a ticket. The Arizona Republic reported that he has been pulled over multiple times by Arizona Department of Public Safety officers since taking office in 2017. Each time, he received a warning, and law enforcement agencies have said their hands were tied and they couldn’t issue citations to lawmakers while the Legislature is in session.
The Arizona Constitution provides for legislative immunity and says lawmakers are “privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, and they shall not be subject to any civil process during the session of the legislature, nor for fifteen days next before the commencement of each session.”
However, House attorneys and outside lawyers told the Arizona Republic they don’t think the provision gives lawmakers immunity for speeding violations.
Ducey’s executive order applies to state law enforcement officers, but he encouraged other law enforcement entities to adopt similar policies.