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.
During House GOP caucus, question arises over possible Clean Elections role in a bill. John Allen asks, “Can we virtually shoot the head of Clean Elections?” @kevinpayneLD21 says yes before @beckynutt3 tells everyone to knock it off and says that kind of talk isn’t OK.
— Jeremy Duda (@jeremyduda) May 27, 2019
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.”
— AZ Clean Elections (@AZCCEC) May 28, 2019
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.