Arizona legislator faces state ethics committee after threatening lobbyist

State Representative Leezah Sun denies threatening to kill a lobbyist
by throwing her off a balcony in a Tucson Marriott, but admitted
Thursday morning before the Arizona House Ethics Committee that “I said I
would bitch-slap her.”

The ethics committee met for the second time to discuss the recent behavior of the freshman legislator from Phoenix, who was hit with an ethics complaint from her fellow Democrat lawmakers in November. 

Sun is accused of harassing
three Tolleson, Arizona, city officials, including city manager Reyes
Medrano and lobbyist Pilar Siwani, in the city civic center in May.

She
was apparently seeking a meeting with the mayor or any City Council
members, but they weren’t present at the time. Then, a conversation
about funding for a highway off-ramp in Tolleson grew heated, resulting
in Sun calling Medrano a “douchebag” and a “fucking asshole,” according
to the restraining order filed against Sun on behalf of the officials. 

In August, Sun attended an Arizona League of Cities and Towns conference in Tucson where she met with two other lobbyists. 

Liz
Goodman, a lobbyist with Hush Blackwell strategies who appeared as a
witness in the Thursday meeting, said she and her coworker Kyla Ruiz
were meeting with Sun when Sun said she would “bitch-slap Siwani, throw
her off the balcony and kill her.”

Sun said in the meeting that
she “took the bait” when the lobbyists brought up the city of Tolleson.
She said she explained to Goodman and Ruiz why she was frustrated with
the city of Tolleson officials she had accosted.

“I was being dramatic and there was clearly not a real threat,” she told the committee. 

The witnesses disagreed.

“The
conversation pretty quickly took a dark tone when the city of Tolleson
was brought up,” Goodman told the committee. “It was not said in jest.
Not sarcastic. Not hyperbole. This was a serious threat levied.”

Sun
asked Goodman in the meeting whether she had retaliated against Goodman
since she reported the interaction, apparently trying to show that lack
of actual malice. She repeatedly denied saying anything about a
balcony, insisting that the hotel they were meeting in didn’t even have a
balcony. Both witnesses disagreed, and one committee member pulled up a
photo on her phone of a two-story balcony inside the hotel. 

Sun insisted that what they were referring to “by definition is not a balcony.” 

Neither witness said that Sun made any indication that she was joking when she said what she said. 

Sun’s attorney Garrick McFadden responded to the complaint
made by Democrats in November, arguing that there’s no way the city
manager actually felt intimidated by Sun, who is 5 feet, 4 inches tall
and was unarmed at the time of the altercation.

McFadden denied
that Sun threatened to throw the lobbyist off the balcony. He admitted
she threatened to slap her, but dismissed it as the legislator “blowing
off steam.” 

Because the lobbyist wasn’t there, and the threat was
contingent on her presence, he wrote, it obviously was not serious. “At
no point was Ms. Sinawi ever in jeopardy of being bitch-slapped by Rep.
Sun,” he wrote in his rebuttal. 

McFadden wasn’t present at the meeting. Sun represented herself. She wasn’t available for comment after the meeting concluded. 

Sun is also accused of intervening in and trying to prevent a court ordered custody transfer
of four children who refused to leave their stepfather to get into
their father’s car in a Dairy Queen parking lot. Sun approached them
claiming to be a friend, and claiming that the custody supervisor,
Kristyn Alcott, was under investigation.

Alcott claims Sun said
she was directed to intervene by Attorney General Kris Mayes. Sun’s
attorney McFadden denied Sun ever making such a claim. It can’t be found
in an audio recording of the event. 

The ethics committee focused only on the threats levied against the lobbyist. 

Committee
chair Joseph Chaplik, a Republican state representative from
Scottsdale, said the committee will have a disciplinary decision out
within 10 days.