Ex-lawmaker Shooter undergoes serious surgery
Former state lawmaker Don Shooter survived a pair of crucial surgeries Wednesday and Thursday as doctors sought to save his life, according to lobbyist and family friend Gretchen Jacobs.
Jacobs told Capitol Media Services that Shooter, who was ejected by the House last year, is at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix. He was brought to the facility after blood flow to a part of his intestines was cut off. She said Shooter, who was on life support, also had a blood clot.
But Jacobs said Thursday that that Shooter, a Republican who represented the Yuma area and parts of western Maricopa County, appears to have rounded a curve.
“The fact that he made it through surgery and all that yesterday (Wednesday) is a miracle,’’ she said. “The odds were against him.’’
Thursday’s surgery, she said, was risky, “but not as risky as yesterday.’’
“Once he makes it through this surgery he should be able to make it,’’ Jacobs said.
Shooter was voted out of the House on Jan. 31, 2018, after colleagues concluded that he was guilty of repeated actions of sexual harassment against lawmakers, lobbyists and others.
The 56-3 vote occurred despite a last-minute plea by the Yuma Republican to instead punish him with a censure. In fact, until that morning, even J.D. Mesnard, who was House speaker, said the lesser penalty was appropriate, given that the investigative report that found credible evidence of harassment concluded much had occurred before 2017, when Shooter was in the state Senate.
But Mesnard changed his mind and pushed for explusion after Shooter sent a letter to his colleagues asking that they delay the vote to consider whether there also were credible charges against Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita. The Scottsdale Republican was the first to level harassment charges against Shooter.
“I’ve said stupid things, I’ve done stupid things,’’ Shooter said in asking colleagues to limit his punishment to a public censure. And Shooter, speaking for less than two minutes, reminded other lawmakers that he apologized earlier in the year during a floor session dealing with sexual harassment training.
An investigative report found “credible evidence’’ Shooter violated anti-harassment policies several times with Ugenti-Rita, including making sexual comments and suggestions and making “unwelcome sexualized comments’’ about her breasts.
But the investigator also found incidents of harassment and improper conduct or comments involving others, including a lobbyist, a newspaper staffer and the former publisher of the Arizona Republic.
“I can’t go back to the past,’’ he said. “But I can change the future if given the opportunity.’’
Since being ejected, Shooter has filed suit against Mesnard and Kirk Adams, who was chief of staff to Gov. Doug Ducey. In essence, Shooter said they all were involved in a conspiracy to silence him for trying to use his position as chair of the House Appropriations Committee to investigate contracts that were being awarded without seeking bids.
But the heart of the complaint filed on his behalf by former Attorney General Tom Horne is that Shooter was denied his due process in the way he was investigated and eventually voted out of the House.
A federal judge threw out part of the lawsuit, sending what remains to Maricopa County Superior Court.
Shooter is a defendant in a separate harassment and assault lawsuit filed against him by Ugenti-Rita.