Arizona lawmakers face ethics complaints

The state Capitol building in Phoenix is pictured. (Photo by Visitor7, cc-by-sa-3.0,

The state Capitol building in Phoenix is pictured. (Photo by Visitor7, cc-by-sa-3.0,

PHOENIX – Two Arizona lawmakers face ethics complaints that one of their attorneys said was prompted by a bitter divorce involving the Scottsdale man who filed them and his apparent intent to get back at anyone connected with his former wife.

The complaints filed by Phillip Potter allege that Democratic Rep. Robert Meza engaged in fraud and public corruption schemes for the past decade, and that Democratic Sen. Lisa Otondo helped cover up for Meza.

The Senate Ethics Committee on Monday met to consider the complaint against Otondo but took no action other than extending the time it has to review the matter until its House counterpart has a chance to consider the Meza case. The House Ethics Committee has not scheduled any hearings on that complaint.

Meza's Phoenix lawyer, Tim Nelson, said the allegations against his client are false and have been shopped around by Potter for years as part of an effort to get back at anyone who had had anything to do with is ex-wife.

Those efforts included providing all the information in the complaint to federal investigators, who Nelson said took no action. He also raised them in a 135-page lawsuit accusing his former wife, Meza and more than a dozen other people of conspiring to support an order a protection his ex-wife obtained against him. The suit also named health care companies and a major utility for their alleged participation in the fraud.

“Every allegation that’s in the Ethics Committee complaints were also in the Superior Court litigation, and the Superior Court dismissed them all in their entirety,” Nelson said. “And we expect that the ethics committees will do the same.”

Potter did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Otondo also did not immediately return calls and emails seeking comment.

At Monday's meeting of the Senate Ethics Committee, the panel's two Democrats complained that the case should be tossed immediately.

“The Senate Ethics Committee has not and should not engage in a fishing expedition,” Sen. Victoria Steele said.

“If there is (alleged unethical conduct) and there is evidence sufficient to proceed, then they should proceed,” Steele said. “But not simply based on suggestions, innuendo, suspicions or conspiracy theories.”

But Republican Sen. Sine Kerr, the committee chair, said the committee does have good reason to extend the time it has to weigh the complaint, “and that is all we're doing here today.”

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