Prominent Republicans attended fundraiser at home of doctor accused of pointing gun at pro-life protesters

By: - October 27, 2020 8:50 am

The house of Dr. Ronald Yunis in Phoenix several hours before a fundraiser for Phoenix mayoral candidate Merissa Hamilton. Photo via Facebook

A Republican candidate for Phoenix mayor held a campaign fundraiser, attended by several prominent GOP officials, at the Phoenix home of a doctor who is facing criminal charges for allegedly pointing a handgun at pro-life protesters outside the abortion clinic where he works. 

The Oct. 3 fundraiser for Merissa Hamilton was at the home of Dr. Ronald Yunis. Yunis, an obstetrician and gynecologist, made headlines last year after allegedly pointing a gun at protesters outside Acacia Women’s Clinic, an abortion provider in central Phoenix. 

Eleven days earlier, Yunis was in court, pleading not guilty to two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a charge of disorderly conduct with a weapon. A prosecutor later declined to present the aggravated assault charges to a grand jury, which indicted him on one count of disorderly conduct with a weapon. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge, which is a class 6 felony.

A flyer for the event lists Congressman Andy Biggs, a Gilbert Republican who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, Congressman David Schweikert and Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward as speakers at the event. 

Photos posted on social media show Biggs, Lamb and Ward in attendance. A spokesman for Schweikert did not say whether the congressman attended.

Hamilton told the Arizona Mirror that she’s unaware of whether Yunis performs abortions, and only knows that he’s an OB/GYN. She declined to say whether she was aware of the alleged incident with the pro-life demonstrators last year. Hamilton instead asked that follow-up questions be emailed to her campaign, which did not respond.

Lamb said he was unaware of Yunis’s background.

“Merissa Hamilton invited me to attend a fundraiser on her behalf, which I did. I had never met the gentleman who hosted the event before I attended and I don’t make it a habit to do background checks on fundraising hosts,” the sheriff said in a statement provided by a campaign spokesman.

It is unclear if Biggs and Ward, who have been staunchly pro-life and opposed to abortion rights throughout their political careers, were aware of Yunis’s background when they attended the fundraiser. A spokesman for the Arizona Republican Party wouldn’t comment on Ward’s attendance, and spokesman for Biggs did not respond to multiple voicemails and emails from the Arizona Mirror

In October 2019, a group of pro-life protesters were demonstrating outside Acacia Women’s Center when Yunis, who works at the clinic, drove past them. Video taken by the protesters appears to show Yunis pointing a gun at them as he drove past them. Yunis has denied the allegation.

Yunis did not respond to messages from the Mirror.

Correction: A previous version of this story inaccurately stated that Yunis faces two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was initially charged with aggravated assault, but the prosecutor did not present those charges to the grand jury, and he currently faces only one charge of disorderly conduct with a weapon.

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Jeremy Duda
Jeremy Duda

Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Jeremy Duda previously served as the Mirror's associate Editor. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”