Originally Published: July 12, 2018 12:02 p.m.
Updated as of Friday, July 13, 2018 6 AM
Should Arizona lawmakers be allowed to have legislative immunity for traffic violations and other misdemeanor offenses?
- Yes 1%
- No 97%
- I do not understand the law enough to decide 2%
304 total votes.
An Arizona state lawmaker was seen telling a sheriff's deputy he sometimes drives as fast as 130 or 140 mph after he was pulled over for speeding, and the deputy said in a report later that the driver claimed to have legislative immunity.
State Rep. Paul Mosley was stopped on March 27 outside of Parker, Arizona. The rural area near the California border is in Mosley's district and more than 150 miles (240 kilometers) west of the state capital in Phoenix.
A body camera video obtained by KLPZ and first published on its website ParkerLiveOnline.com shows a La Paz County Sheriff's deputy warning Mosley to slow down. Mosley was going 97 mph in a 55 mph zone on state Route 95, the news outlet reported.
Mosley then says he sometimes drives "130, 140, 120," while trying to get home to surprise his wife. He says he doesn't notice the speed because of his vehicle's nice wheels and suspension.
The deputy's written report said Mosley told him not to waste time on the incident because he has legislative immunity, KLPZ reported.
"I don't break the law because I can, but because, you know, I'm just trying to get home," Mosley says in the video.
While the state constitution does provide for certain kinds of legislative immunity, it's generally intended for actions related to legislative acts, according to a state manual. And a document from November 2002 shared by the House Rules Committee says speeding tickets — as well as violations for driving under the influence — aren't covered.
The video does not show the deputy, who was not identified, issuing a speeding ticket, but the incident is under review by Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre after the La Paz County Attorney Office referred the incident to avoid a potential conflict of interest. McIntyre said in a statement a complaint has not yet been filed.
"I do not believe the ethical rules permit me to say whether I intend to charge the matter or not, however," McIntyre's statement said. "I am able to say that it will be reviewed consistent with our ethical obligations and a charging decision will be made as time and resources permit."
Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard said he was "disturbed" to see Mosley's actions and doesn't think the immunity provision would apply.
"Nothing short of an emergency justifies that kind of speeding, and assertions of immunity in that situation seem outside the intent of the constitutional provision regarding legislative immunity," Mesnard said.
Mosley, a Republican who lives in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but did issue an apology on his personal Facebook page Thursday morning following the video's publication. In the apology, he says his comments about driving over 100 miles per hour were jokes that showed "extremely bad judgment."
"I would like to apologize to my colleagues and constituents, as well as law enforcement, for my conduct on March 27th, 2018, which is shown in the recently-released video," he wrote. "My desire to get home to see my family does not justify how fast I was speeding nor my reference to legislative immunity when being pulled over. Legislative immunity is a serious responsibility and should not be taken lightly or abused. In addition, my jokes about frequently driving over 100 miles per hour during my 3-hour commute to and from the capitol were entirely inappropriate and showed extremely bad judgement on my part, for which I am truly sorry. I have no excuse for any of this, only regret of my actions, a hope for forgiveness and a commitment that it will not happen again."
La Paz County Attorney Tony Rogers told the website ParkerLiveOnline that he referred the case to the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys Advisory Council to avoid a conflict of interest. Council officials said they sent the case to Cochise County for review.
Cochise County Attorney Brian M. McIntyre says a complaint has not yet been filed.
"I do not believe the ethical rules permit me to say whether I intend to charge the matter or not, however," McIntyre wrote in an email. "I am able to say that it will be reviewed consistent with our ethical obligations and a charging decision will be made as time and resources permit."
A search of court records in Arizona didn't immediately turn up any traffic violations issued against Mosley.
Mosley, who was elected in 2016, is running for another two-year term in November.
The Arizona Fraternal Order of Police (AZFOP) withdrew its endorsement of Mosley and condemned his speeding.
Mohave County Supervisor Jean Bishop said on Lake Havasu's Today's News-Herald Facebook page she's glad to see the AZFOP, of which she's an active member, withdraw its endorsement of Mosley.
AZFOP President John Ortolano said in a statement, "Rep. Mosley's recklessness, his demeanor and his utter disregard for the safety of the public represent the exact opposite of what the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police looks for in an elected official.
"Potentially lethal speeding isn't a joke. We will not stand with those who think it's acceptable or funny to risk the lives of others while behind the wheel of a lethal weapon."