Arizona Daily Star
Panel tosses subpoena complaint
Colleagues side with Ariz. senator, reject misuse-of-power accusation
By Howard Fischer
CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES
PHOENIX -- The Arizona Senate Ethics Committee on Monday threw out a complaint accusing Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, of misusing his subpoena power.
The three Republicans on the five-member panel concluded Harper did nothing wrong in issuing a subpoena so an expert hired by a Phoenix newsweekly could examine Maricopa County voting machines. Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, R-Chandler, said there was no evidence that Harper made any deal with the New Times to have that expert's report before anyone else.
Whether the New Times actually got the report ahead of time is unclear. It published a story based on what it said was a "draft" report by Douglas Jones before senators got their copies.
Senate President Ken Bennett said he agreed with the committee's decision. But Bennett said state law and Senate rules may need to be altered to prevent future problems.
Current law allows people who chair legislative panels to seek outside funding for investigations.
Harper, chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Accountability and Reform, wanted to find out why a recount of a Republican legislative primary last year turned up nearly 500 extra votes ...
Bennett refused Harper's request to pay to have the ballots examined and recounted. So Harper got the New Times to hire Jones and pay his expenses.
Jones said he found several irregularities in how the machines read -- or ignored -- marks on sample ballots. But Jones, who had access only to the machines and not the actual ballots, said he could not rule out the possibility of incompetence or fraud by election officials.
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