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KVOA Tucson

Panel withdraws ethics complaint against Arizona state senator

Jan 17 2006

(AP) A committee of the Arizona Legislature rejected a request to open an ethics investigation of a lawmaker's use of subpoena power in examining a close primary election.

The Senate's ethics committee voted 3-2 on Monday to withdraw a complaint against Republican Sen. Jack Harper of Sun City West that questioned whether he issued subpoenas to get information that provided a weekly newspaper with an exclusive story.

As chairman of a government accountability committee, Harper issued subpoenas to Maricopa County officials, demanding that they turn over ballots and other material from a 2004 legislative race in which a recount reversed the initial outcome.


Democratic Sen. Bill Brotherton, who sought the investigation, said he was concerned about the subpoena because the Phoenix New Times reportedly is paying for a report by an elections expert.


Senate President Ken Bennett, a Republican from Prescott, said he would have supported the Senate paying for an expert to examine voting machines to explain calibration problems that may have occurred in voting machines.

But Bennett said he was against recounting the results of the election more than a year after its returns were made official.

Bennett said he agreed for the Senate to pay approximately $1,200 for the expert's time and a limited number of his expenses, while the newspaper paid about $800 of his travel expenses.

The report by Douglas Jones, an elections expert and professor at the University of Iowa, concluded that the only way to settle theories that ballots were altered or miscounted is to look at the ballots themselves.

Harper said he might use the report to seek a court order to get access to the ballots.

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