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OUT WEST ROUNDUP: 1st lawmaker expelled since #MeToo is running again in Arizona

Author: Associated Press - June 8, 2018 - Updated: June 8, 2018

In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, state Rep. Don Shooter is seen on the floor of the Arizona House in Phoenix. Shooter, the former Arizona representative who became the first state lawmaker expelled for sexual misconduct since the #MeToo movement swept the nation in October 2017, has filed a $1.3-million claim against the House speaker and Gov. Doug Ducey's chief of staff. (AP Photo/Bob Christie, File)In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, state Rep. Don Shooter is seen on the floor of the Arizona House in Phoenix. Shooter is a former Arizona representative who became the first state lawmaker expelled for sexual misconduct since the #MeToo movement. (AP Photo/Bob Christie, File)


1st lawmaker expelled since #MeToo seeking office in Arizona

PHOENIX — A former Arizona lawmaker who became the first kicked out of a state Legislature since the #MeToo movement began because of a lengthy pattern of sexual misconduct is running for office again.

Don Shooter, a Republican expelled from the Arizona House in February, said he filed around 900 signatures last week to seek the GOP nomination for a state Senate seat in the same southern Arizona district he used to serve.

He wouldn’t comment on the circumstances surrounding his expulsion, which came as lawmakers of both parties faced a national reckoning over sexual misconduct that began last fall.

Sitting in the lobby of the Arizona secretary of state’s office waiting to file his signatures, Shooter said “Let’s dance.”

He said he wants to talk about policy issues, such as the water needs of the agricultural industry and public education. Arizona teachers launched an unprecedented statewide strike this year over a lack of education funding.

“That’s the only thing I miss about being away from here, was the ability to solve problems,” Shooter said.

The lawmaker was known as a politically incorrect jokester who threw booze-fueled parties in his office on the last day of legislative sessions.

A female lawmaker, Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, accused him in November of propositioning her for sex and repeatedly commenting on her breasts. Other women soon came forward to accuse Shooter of inappropriate sexual comments or actions.

Shooter faces a primary against the incumbent and another Republican who has filed to run.


Mormons grapple with race decades after ban on black leaders

SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon church last week celebrated the 40th anniversary of reversing its ban on black people serving in the lay priesthood, going on missions or getting married in temples, rekindling debate about one of the faith’s most sensitive topics.

The number of black Mormons has grown but still only accounts for an estimated 6 percent of 16 million worldwide members. Not one serves in the highest levels of global leadership.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has worked to improve race relations, including calling out white supremacy and launching a new formal alliance with the NAACP, but some black Mormons and scholars say discriminatory opinions linger in some congregations from a ban rooted in a belief that black skin was a curse.

In a 2013 essay , the church disavowed the reasons behind the ban and condemned all racism, saying the prohibition came during an era of great racial divide that influenced early church teachings. Blacks were always allowed to be members, but the nearly century-long ban kept them from participating in many important rituals.

Scholars said the essay included the church’s most comprehensive explanation for the ban and its 1978 reversal, which leaders say came from a revelation from God.

But it didn’t include an apology, leaving some unsatisfied.

“A lot of members are waiting for the church just to say, ‘We were wrong,'” said Phylicia Norris-Jimenez, a 30-year-old black Mormon and member of the grass-roots Black LDS Legacy Committee, group of women who organized a conference in Utah to honor the legacy of black Mormon pioneers.

The theme of the anniversary celebration in Salt Lake City was “Be one,” a reference to a Mormon scripture. Gladys Knight, one of the most famous black Mormons, was scheduled to perform.


Immigrant tuition law debated in Kansas governor’s race

TOPEKA, Kansas — A Republican candidate for Kansas governor who has advised President Donald Trump is attacking a state law that helps young people living in the U.S. illegally go to state colleges, appealing to his party’s conservative base in a tough GOP primary race.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach tweeted recently that repealing the policy of allowing some young immigrants to pay the lower tuition rates reserved for legal state residents would “stem the rising tide of tuition hikes.” He backed off that questionable claim earlier this week but argued that the law subsidizes illegal immigration and is unfair to legal U.S. residents.

The law has split Republicans since its enactment in 2004.

Democratic and independent candidates said the law helps young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children and accused Kobach of sowing political divisions.

But Kobach’s tweet — in the wake of proposals from state universities to raise tuition — followed a GOP primary for Georgia governor that became a contest of which candidate would be toughest on illegal immigration. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp advanced to a July 24 runoff after boasting in an ad about owning a big truck “in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself.”

“That is a smart issue to talk about with Republican voters,” Patrick Miller, a University of Kansas political scientist, said. “Kobach’s probably not going to get those more centrist voters. He really needs to own that conservative vote.”

Kobach has long criticized the 2004 tuition law, which applies to students who attend a Kansas high school for three or more years and apply for legal status. The Kansas Board of Regents said 670 such students enrolled in state universities, community colleges and technical colleges last fall.

The regents have blamed tuition increases at state universities on past cuts in state funding, which is still nearly $30 million below its 2009 peak and far more than even Kobach’s estimated subsidy for immigrant students. Kobach acknowledged that tuition increases are “a much bigger issue” that can’t be solved solely by repealing the tuition law.


Border agent questions 2 women for speaking Spanish

HAVRE, Montana — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are reviewing an encounter between a Border Patrol agent and two women who were speaking Spanish at a gas station in northern Montana, the agency said.

Allegations have been made before of law-enforcement officers in Montana racially profiling people to find out their immigration status.

The women, who are U.S. citizens, said the agent detained them for about 35 minutes in Havre, a small city about 30 miles from the U.S.-Canada border. One of the women, Ana Suda, asked the agent why he asked for their identifications.

“I recorded him admitting that he just stop(ped) us because we (were) speaking Spanish, no other reason,” Suda wrote in a Facebook post. “Remember do NOT speak Spanish sounds like is illegal.”

Suda told The New York Times that she plans to file a formal complaint with Customs and Border Protection.

Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jason Givens released a statement that said the incident is being reviewed to ensure that all appropriate policies were followed.

“Although most Border Patrol work is conducted in the immediate border area, agents have broad law enforcement authorities and are not limited to a specific geography within the United States,” the statement said. “They have the authority to question individuals, make arrests, and take and consider evidence.”

Border Patrol agents are authorized by law to make warrantless stops within a “reasonable distance” from the border — defined as 100 miles under federal regulations. That broad authority has led to complaints of racial profiling by agents who board buses and trains and stop people at highway checkpoints.

In 2015, the Montana Highway Patrol established a policy forbidding the detention of a person based to verify his status, settling a lawsuit alleging that troopers routinely pulled over people for minor infractions to do just that.


6 young squirrels rescued from ordeal of tangled tails

OMAHA — Six young squirrels whose tails were stuck together by tree sap are recovering after a Nebraska wildlife expert untangled them.

A Nebraska Humane Society worker rescued the squirrels from a pine tree in Omaha last week. Nebraska Wildlife Rehab executive director Laura Stastny told the Omaha World-Herald that the sap-covered tails became knotted as the youngsters wrestled in their nest. Stastny says they are about 8 weeks old.

Resident Craig Luttman spotted the rodents’ predicament, describing it as “kind of like a tug of war, going in completely opposite directions.”

Stastny gave the squirrels a mild painkiller before removing the sticky fur and untangling them. She says some of them suffered injuries to their tails, but that she expects all six to be released in a few weeks.

Associated Press

Associated Press