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Clean Elections commissioner condemns shooting joke by GOP lawmakers

By: - May 28, 2019 4:25 pm

Illustration courtesy Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission/Facebook

The chairman of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission wants two legislators to apologize for comments they made during a Republican caucus meeting about virtually shooting the head of the commission.

On Monday, Republican members of the Arizona House of Representatives were discussing a bill that would authorize funding for virtual shooting ranges and virtual training simulators for several law enforcement agencies.

The original version of the bill pertained to Clean Elections enforcement. The bill was changed to deal with the police training simulators through what is known as a strike-everything amendment, in which the original bill’s language is replaced with entirely new – and often unrelated – provisions.

After an explanation of the bill, Rep. John Allen, R-Phoenix, joked, “Can we virtually shoot the head of Clean Elections?” Rep. Kevin Payne, R-Peoria, joked that the bill said they could shoot the head of Clean Elections. House Majority Whip Becky Nutt was running the meeting and stepped in to stop her colleagues’ conversation. The Clifton Republican said such comments were inappropriate and urged her fellow lawmakers to stop making them.

Republican lawmakers and the Clean Elections Commission have a long history of animosity, in recent years largely due to the commission’s regulation of spending by independent expenditure groups. It was unclear if Allen was referring to Tom Collins, the commission’s executive director, or Mark Kimble, who chairs the Clean Elections Commission. Collins is usually the commission’s public face and voice.

Kimble on Tuesday issued a statement condemning the comments and seeking an apology. Kimble, an ex-staffer for former Tucson Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who famously survived being shot in the head, said the comments were “deeply troubling.”

That is not funny. Reps. Allen and Payne owe an apology to all Arizonans for thinking it is appropriate to jest about shooting people in the head,” Kimble said in a statement posted on the Clean Elections website. The late Sen. John McCain was known for urging his colleagues to ‘disagree without being disagreeable.’ The comments by Reps. Allen and Payne go far beyond being disagreeable. They are shameful and disgusting.”

Kimble mistakenly said Allen joked about shooting someone in the head; Allen joked about “virtually” shooting the head of Clean Elections.

Allen and Payne could not be reached for comment.

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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.”