Liz Harris supporters throw barbs at Maricopa County supervisors

They asked the board to reseat the ousted state representative and accused a Phoenix city councilman of praying to the devil

By: - April 26, 2023 2:18 pm

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meets on Jan. 5, 2022. Photo by Michael Chow | Arizona Republic/pool photo

Supporters of former state Rep. Liz Harris are irate with the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and they let the board members know that on Wednesday, with one of them even falsely accusing a Phoenix city councilman of opening the board meeting with a prayer to the devil. 

The Arizona House of Representatives ousted Harris on April 12 for inviting a woman to make unfounded criminal claims about state and local officials before a House and Senate elections committee meeting on Feb. 23, then lying to the House Ethics Committee about her prior knowledge of the presentation. 

Last week, the GOP precinct committeemen for Legislative District 13, which Harris formerly represented, nominated three people to take Harris’ seat in the legislature. The nominees were Harris herself, alongside two of her allies, Steve Steele and Julie Willoughby. District 13 includes parts of Chandler and Gilbert.

Harris supporters showed up to Wednesday’s Maricopa County Board of Supervisors meeting to throw barbs at the board and to urge its members to reinstate Harris to her seat, something that is highly unlikely. 

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James Urton, one of the Republican precinct committeemen for District 13, asked the board to expedite the process to appoint Harris to the seat she was expelled from. 

“I respectfully urge you to reinstate Representative Harris to her rightful place in the Arizona House of Representative as soon as possible,” Urton told the board. 

He added that he believes her expulsion from the House is a gross violation of due process that contradicts the will of the people. The Arizona Constitution gives the state House and Senate purview over discipline of legislators, and allows them to expel a member if a two-thirds supermajority of the chamber agrees.

Chris Hamlet, who lost a bid for Mesa School Board in November, told the supervisors that he believes Harris was illegally expelled from the House, and that she should be reinstated. 

“The will of the people was to have Liz Harris in that position,” Hamlet said, adding that he believes that everyone across the country believes that “Maricopa County and this board is the most corrupt in the country.”

Hamlet also went after new Phoenix City Councilman Kevin Robinson, who gave a brief prayer at the start of Wednesday’s meeting, for not ending the prayer “in recognition of our lord and savior.” During the prayer, Robinson asked for blessings upon the meeting, for good will and that those in the meeting prove themselves worthy citizens of the United States, devoted to truth, fellowship and service. He ended the prayer by saying “thank you.” 

Hamlet called the prayer “disgusting.” 

“He must have been praying to the devil,” Hamlet said. “You should have men of God come in here and say the prayer next time instead of fools like that.” 

Supervisors Bill Gates and Clint Hickman both defended Robinson. 

“He deserves respect,” Gates said of Robinson, adding that Robinson worked for the Phoenix Police Department for 36 years. “To suggest that Robinson is not a good man and a man of God was offensive.” 

Robinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Mirror. 

Another Harris supporter, Denise Babayan of Phoenix, reminded the supervisors that they all swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, adding that she believes that if they don’t reseat Harris, they’ll be going against that oath. 

“In my recollection, that’s treason,” Babayan said. 

Harris supporter Cynthia Sullivan, of Cave Creek, pointed out that Harris was by far the most popular candidate when the District 13 precinct committeemen voted to replace her last week. 

“Liz Harris is the person that her constituents want to represent her in their district,” Sullivan said. “I call upon you to appoint her back to her seat.”

Harris also attended the meeting, but did not address the supervisors. 

Blue Crowley, a Maricopa County community activist, advised the board to take its time in appointing Harris’ replacement, if that’s what the supervisors feel they need to do. 

“There’s no rush for you to make an appointment,” Crowley said. “Do your due diligence.”

State law does not require the county supervisors to appoint a replacement within a set time.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, a website urging conservatives to rally behind Harris incorrectly told her supporters that the board would appoint Harris’ replacement that day and urged them to show up at the meeting to protest. The board took no action on Harris’ appointment during the meeting. 

Her appointment was not on the board’s agenda, and the board cannot take votes on anything that hasn’t been posted for public review. 

The board’s next meetings are scheduled for the week of May 8, but Maricopa County spokesman Fields Moseley told the Mirror that he can’t say if the supervisors will be prepared to make a decision by that time.

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Caitlin Sievers
Caitlin Sievers

Caitlin joined the Arizona Mirror in 2022 with almost 10 years of experience as a reporter and editor, holding local government leaders accountable from newsrooms across the West and Midwest. She's won statewide awards in Nebraska, Indiana and Wisconsin for reporting, photography and commentary.

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