Rep. Leezah Sun resigns from Arizona Legislature after damning ethics panel report

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Arizona House Rep. Leezah Sun resigned on Wednesday moments before House members were scheduled to vote on her expulsion.

The first-term Democratic lawmaker from the West Valley's Legislative District 22 departed following an ethics report that found she engaged in a pattern of threat-making and abuse of office.

Her resignation also followed an ethics complaint by Democratic leaders and two hearings, in December and January, as part of the House Ethics Committee investigation. In one of the report's key findings, the five-member committee found that Sun told a group of lobbyists at a Tucson conference in August that if she saw a certain Tolleson official, "I will b----slap her, throw her over the balcony and kill her.”

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Sun has steadfastly denied she uttered a death threat, claiming she said only that she would "b----slap" the woman. But the committee didn't believe her, siding instead with witnesses who testified on Jan. 25 that they heard Sun's statement and didn't believe she was joking.

The complaint accused Sun of: using foul language and intimidation tactics during a June meeting with officials at Tolleson’s City Hall; sending Instagram friend requests to the officials’ family members; interfering with a custodial dispute; threatening a school superintendent with a legislative investigation and then retaliating against the superintendent by attending a board meeting Jan. 9 to complain about his testimony about her.

House members were beginning their floor session on Wednesday when Democratic House spokesman Robbie Sherwood told news media Sun had resigned. A written briefing of the day's events included information about a possible vote for Sun's ouster, and a House resolution to expel Sun had been drawn up for the likelihood of an expulsion. House Speaker Ben Toma, R-Glendale, announced her resignation on the floor before adjourning the brief session.

Leezah Sun, a Democrat, represents Legislative District 22 in the Arizona House.
Leezah Sun, a Democrat, represents Legislative District 22 in the Arizona House.

Sun wasn't immediately available for comment.

After the floor session, Democratic Leader Rep. Lupe Contreras, D-Avondale, told reporters Sun emailed a resignation letter shortly after the floor session began. Contreras declined to say whether he or other leaders talked to Sun about resigning and appeared uncomfortable when asked if an expulsion vote had been likely. He instead said only that the resignation was "her decision."

"I just want the ability for our members to be able to just move on and work at this point," he said. "And that's what we're going to do."

Expelling Sun would have required bipartisan cooperation for a two-thirds majority vote by the House.

Rep. Justin Wilmeth, R-Phoenix, said he was prepared to vote to expel Sun before he heard she resigned.

"Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, when you pull those stunts, you need to be out of here," he said.

House Democrats have lost three members to resignations in the past few days. Rep. Amish Shah, a Phoenix Democrat who's served three terms in Legislative District 5, and is currently running for Congress, announced his resignation during the floor session. Rep. Jennifer Longdon, a Phoenix Democrat who's also served three terms, resigned as of Friday for a job in health care policy.

Contreras said he expected a "quick" replacement process by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. State law requires replacements to come from the same political party.

Reach the reporter at or 480-276-3237. Follow him on X @raystern.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Rep. Leezah Sun resigns from Arizona Legislature