In what is easily one of the most regrettable developments in the modern times of Arizona politics, freshman Arizona Representative Liz Harris has been expelled from the legislature after a truly bipartisan 46-13 vote. This is the culmination of the sort of behavior that has been a source of national embarrassment for our state for years now. So what happened and how did we get there?
Liz Harris is a realtor who earned an MBA and puts those letters into every single missive that she possibly can, including on her Twitter handle. I only add that to paint the proper context of someone who was always out of their element and tried desperately to look the part. She ran for the House in her Chandler area district in 2020 and lost, but kept at it. Between name identification and a strong embrace of the QAnon movement and Trumpian conspiracy, it worked for a Republican primary. In 2022, she won first place in that primary, and in the general election against single-shot Democrat Jennifer Pawlik, Harris squeezed past fellow Republican Julie Willoughby and won her seat.
That Chandler district, previously district 17 and currently district 13, is truly purple. It was almost certain to choose one Dem and one Republican. And after a look at Willoughby’s and Harris’s respective websites, it was a clear choice between a traditional conservative and Full Trump Mode. And by 270 votes, District 13 chose to pair Pawlik with Full Trump Mode. And that’s when things took a downward turn.
Harris decided to begin her time as a newly-elected Arizona Representative by attempting to convince the rest of the legislature that the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel has been bribing everyone from Governor Hobbs to half of the legislature to many of our county’s judges to the Church of Latter Day Saints. Yes, if Republicans tipping the election towards Biden in 2020 wasn’t crazy enough, it is time to turn it up three or four notches and claim that everyone except the “real patriots” are conspiring with a Mexican drug cartel…
If you are prone to believing conspiracy theories, it is worth noting that the key witness, Jacqueline Breger, is an insurance agent by trade, her one key citation was of her boyfriend John Thaler, and neglected to mention that the person who provided the hot tip about the Sinaloa cartel was Thaler’s ex-wife, who also he claims kidnapped their son. If you still believe all of this, I have beachfront property on Roosevelt Row with your name on it.
And there is certainly a Scottsdale connection to this story, as area Representative Joseph Chaplik is the Chair of the Ethics Committee which referred this to a larger vote that ultimately led to the expulsion. While doing a fairly admirable job in that capacity, both he and Representative Alexander Kolodin voted against the expulsion. While Kolodin had a reasonable statement of disapproval of Harris’s presentation but not wanting to set a vindictive precedent, the normally loquacious Chaplik had very little to say. Actually, the only time he’s ever mentioned her on Twitter was…this.
So sometimes saying less is best.
In summary, yet another embarrassing chapter of Arizona governance is behind us, taken out behind the shed and forced into a quick demise. The GOP was smart to put it behind them early, but the larger problem of a part of the voting base lost in conspiracy theory remains.