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Arizona Republican report calls for impeachment of AG Kris Mayes for making false accusations against electors

A group of Republican members of the Arizona House of Representatives has recommended impeaching Attorney General Kris Mayes, saying she abuses her authority, attacks political opponents and selectively enforces state laws.

The House Ad Hoc Committee on Executive Oversight released a 102-page document of its findings and evidence on Wednesday, recommending that the state legislature use its power to remove Democrat Mayes from office.

An impeachment trial that could lead to removal from office after a trial in the Senate is extremely rare – and is anything but certain given the narrow Republican majority in Parliament.

“The people of Arizona deserve better from the state's top law enforcement official,” Republican Rep. Jacqueline Parker of San Tan Valley said in a statement about the report. Parker chaired the committee, which held two meetings in recent weeks before making its recommendation.

Supervisory report: Read the 102-page House Ad Hoc Committee document outlining the findings

Last month, a grand jury in Maricopa County indicted 11 Arizona Republicans and seven senior advisers to Donald Trump, accusing them of plotting to keep Trump in the White House by falsely certifying his 2020 election victory in the state. Mayes is leading the case against the Republicans' fake electors and Trump advisers, including his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

All five Republican committee members signed the 23-page recommendation that the Arizona House of Representatives should initiate impeachment proceedings because Mayes committed “abuse of office.” The Democrats were only nominal members of the committee; none attended the hearings.

The committee said Mayes committed “abuse of office” and cited six examples. They include Mayes' letter warning against a hand count of ballots in Mohave County, her unsuccessful lawsuit attempting to block the election administration's delegation in Cochise County, her consumer warning about “crisis pregnancy centers” and town hall meetings about water resources and potential harassment claims. The committee faulted Mayes for not testifying before it and for refusing to defend a 2022 law banning transgender girls from school sports.

“Based on Attorney General Mayes' abuse of power, dereliction of duty, and breach of official duty, the Committee concludes that Attorney General Mayes has committed offenses that warrant impeachment,” the final report states. “The Committee therefore recommends that the House of Representatives adopt a resolution to impeach Attorney General Kris Mayes and appoint a panel of managers to impeach her in a trial before the Senate.”

Mayes: “Sham” committee will not change the work

Mayes said in a phone interview with The Arizona Republic that none of the committee's findings would change her work. She said the committee's investigation was a “farce,” “absurd” and politically motivated.

“It will not stop me from doing my job, which is protecting the people of Arizona and addressing the real issues they face,” Mayes said.

That will soon be put to the test, as Mayes is planning a water availability hearing in Patagonia on Thursday that will address, among other things, whether excessive groundwater extraction could violate state environmental laws.

It's another stop on her tour of the state that has drawn the ire of the committee, which claimed the events were a misuse of public funds and that Mayes was promoting a potential voting bill.

“I'm not going to stop holding town hall meetings and listening to the people of Arizona, that's my job,” Mayes said. “And if these extreme Republicans spent more time listening to the people of Arizona, maybe they would understand what our residents struggle with every day. But they obviously don't view their jobs the way I do.”

Hours after the committee made its recommendation, Mayes' campaign sent out a text message calling for donations, highlighting the impeachment recommendation and asking supporters to “make sure democracy remains protected.”

How does the impeachment process work in Arizona?

The Arizona Constitution establishes a process for removing public officials from office for “high crimes, misdemeanors, or abuse of office.” Conviction requires a majority vote in the 60-member House of Representatives and a two-thirds majority in the 30-member Senate.

House Speaker Ben Toma, who convened the committee, said Wednesday that he would vote to impeach Mayes based on what he had read so far in the committee's report.

“I think she refused to do the job,” said Toma, R-Glendale, saying Mayes picks and chooses which cases against the state she defends. “Run for the office, do the job,” he said. When asked to respond, Mayes noted only that Toma was vying for a seat in Congress in a hotly contested Republican primary.

Toma noted that he had not read the report in full and had no sense of the 31-member GOP caucus in the House. He hesitated when asked if he would allow the late introduction of a measure that would trigger an impeachment vote, saying he would need to check the mood of House Republicans.

“I happen to be pretty good at math,” Toma said. “I understand it's going to be difficult to get to No. 20 in the Senate.”

There are 16 Republicans in the Senate, which means that for the process to be successful, the Democrats would have to join in and vote against a member of their party.

Parker did not respond to a voicemail or text message from The Arizona Republic on Wednesday, and it is unclear whether she will launch impeachment proceedings or lobby other GOP lawmakers to vote for her. Parker, a lawmaker in her second term and a member of the legislature's most conservative coalition, the Freedom Caucus, is not running for re-election.

Committee recommends fine

In addition to impeachment, Republican committee members also propose punishing Mayes' office through the state budget. Lawmakers could defund the attorney general's office equal to the amount Republican lawmakers spent defending cases Mayes would not support, the report said. Lawmakers could also cut Mayes' budget to defund entities that lawmakers did not specifically authorize, such as an entity focused on upholding reproductive rights, the committee said.

“We are the premier law enforcement agency in the state of Arizona,” Mayes said. “We have 60 hard-working agents who fight the drug cartels every day and do dangerous work on behalf of the people of Arizona. And this legislature wants to defund us? … It looks like it's the Republican Party now that wants to defund the police.”

Other GOP members on the committee included Rep. Neal Carter of San Tan Valley, Rep. John Gillette of Kingman and Rep. David Marshall of Snowflake. Rep. Austin Smith of Surprise, who was recently accused of forging voter signatures needed to run for another term, was the committee's co-chair. Smith withdrew his candidacy following the forgery allegations.

According to records from the Arizona State Library, the last time the Arizona legislature impeached and convicted a public official was in 1988. Then-governor Evan Mecham loaned his auto dealer inauguration money, and he and his brother were accused of concealing a six-figure loan from a Tempe construction contractor. They were acquitted of the charges – but Mecham was convicted and removed from office by the Senate.

The House of Representatives considered impeaching Republican Commissioner Jim Irvin in 2003 over allegations that he attempted to influence a bidding war on behalf of Southwest Gas. Irvin was ordered to pay $60 million in a related civil case.

An investigation was conducted by a special counsel from the House of Representatives and Irvin resigned during the impeachment process.

Reporter Mary Jo Pitzl contributed to this report.

Reach reporter Stacey Barchenger at stacey.barchenger@arizonarepublic.com or 480-416-5669.

This article originally appeared in the Arizona Republic: Impeachment of Kris Mayes: Republican panel in Arizona calls for firing of attorney general

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