One of Arizona’s most conservative lawmakers — who pushed for a state militia that would fight “illegals” — is now championing a bill that would benefit some of the state’s union workers.
But as the Arizona Republic‘s Laurie Roberts reported, State Senator Sylvia Allen’s (R) bill is not only questionable because it seems so uncharacteristic for one of the Legislature’s most right-leaning members. Allen’s measure is the latest chapter in a clash she had with Navajo County Sheriff K.C. Clark last year, when she was a Navajo County supervisor.
The measure, Senate Bill 1467, would benefit police and corrections officers accused of crimes — just as her son-in-law was when Allen ran afoul of Clark.
“She was interfering in the investigation,” Clark told Roberts. “At one point, I had to go to the county attorney and say if she gets in my way, I’m going to book her for interfering in the criminal investigation.”
Clark’s dispute with Allen began last spring, when he commissioned an independent investigation into allegations that her relative, corrections officer Tim Hunt, was trading sexual favors with one female inmate in exchange for cigarettes and matches, and making “sexually suggestive remarks and gestures” toward six other women being held in the county jail.
Allen contacted Clark after Hunt was put on administrative leave, saying:
I need to talk to you about what is going on in the jail. The commander put up a note in the control room telling EVERYONE that Tim Hunt was not allowed into the jail this was before he got to work then they made him sit out front all day not telling him why he was being investigated. He was humiliated and no one said WHY.
According to Roberts, Allen insisted to Clark that Hunt had been framed, saying that there were documents missing from Hunt’s computer system that would exhonerate Hunt. She also requested that the county attorney’s office search for any “record of deleted or changed documents” that could be recovered.
That June, she told Clark and County Manager James Jayne in an email that the investigation “has brought some problems to light that directly affect county liability.”
However, the county investigator determined that month that there was a “preponderance of evidence” supporting the allegations against Hunt.
“There was significant consistency between the accounts of the witness female inmates, and there is no credible evidence of any conspiracy,” the investigator’s report stated. No documents related to Hunt were reported as missing.
Clark also rejected Allen’s allegation that any documents related to the probe had been scrubbed, telling Roberts, “Never once had a missing report except for Tim Hunts, odd to say the least and hard to believe.”
Hunt resigned a month after the investigator’s findings, after a polygraph test said he was “not truthful” when he denied engaging in sexual activity with an inmate under his supervision.
Allen was elected to the Senate last November. This week, she introduced SB 1467, which would end the use of polygraph tests against officers facing an investigation. The measure would also allow officers in her son-in-law’s position to take part in “appeals trials.”
“I did it for the families, to try and help them,” she said. “I found out in this process the people who are protecting our rights don’t get due process.”
The measure was met with a mixed reaction from state law enforcement groups. The Arizona Police Administration, an umbrella group for several state police unions, backed the proposal. But the state Sheriffs Association, Association of Police Chiefs and Association of Counties have all opposed it.
The bill passed in the state Senate earlier this month after the polygraph test ban was removed. It was approved on Thursday by the state House Military and Public Safety Committee.
Meanwhile, Roberts wrote, Allen is encouraging former former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack — who has said he would have allowed his wife and daughters to be shot for the sake of defending Cliven Bundy — to move to Navajo County and run against Clark.
As Phoenix New Times reported, Allen proposed another bill earlier this year that would have allowed elected boards to exclude the public from any meetings that did not directly involve voting actions. She proposed another bill three years ago that would have set aside nearly $2 million for the creation of an “Arizona Guard,” an armed militia that would patrol the border with Mexico.