Jan 31, 2024 - News

Sun resigns over ethics flap ahead of House expulsion vote

An empty desk with sunflowers on it and a nameplate that reads Sun District 22.

Former Rep. Leezah Sun's desk on the House floor shortly before her resignation yesterday. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

Rep. Leezah Sun resigned from the Arizona House on Wednesday, heading off a planned vote to expel her for what a recently released ethics report described as a "pattern of disorderly behavior."

Why it matters: Sun would've been only the sixth lawmaker in Arizona history to be expelled if her colleagues had voted to remove her.

State of play: The daily House agenda showed Minority Leader Lupe Contreras planned to introduce a resolution to expel Sun, a Phoenix Democrat who was halfway through her first term.

  • It takes a two-thirds vote of the chamber's 60 members to expel someone.
  • Republican Rep. Justin Wilmeth told reporters he believed there would've been more than 45 votes for expulsion.
  • Speaker Ben Toma received Sun's email just minutes after the scheduled start of House proceedings.

Catch up quick: House Democratic leaders filed an ethics complaint against Sun in November, and the House Ethics Committee on Tuesday issued a report finding she:

  • Threatened to throw a lobbyist for the city of Tolleson off a balcony during a conference in Tucson;
  • Interfered in the court-ordered transfer of children in a custodial matter and inappropriately cited her authority as a state legislator;
  • Threatened to initiate a state investigation into a school district over a dispute involving a political ally of hers.

What they're saying: Asked how he felt to have the Sun situation resolved, Contreras said: "I just want the ability for our members to be able to move on and work at this point. Let's just go. I want us to be able to work together, and we have work to do here."

The other side: Sun did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

  • She previously admitted saying she'd like to "b***h slap" the Tolleson lobbyist, but denied threatening her life.
  • She also acknowledged interceding in the custody dispute, but denied she indicated she was there on the advice of Attorney General Kris Mayes.
  • And she denied threatening a school superintendent with an investigation.

What to watch: Sun's resignation leaves a vacant seat in West Valley-based District 22, covering parts of Phoenix, Glendale, Avondale and Tolleson.

  • The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors will appoint someone to serve the remainder of her term.
  • Democrats in the district will choose three candidates for the board to choose from.
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