State Rep. Mosley under fire for lead foot
A video showing State Rep. Paul Mosley apparently bragging to a sheriff’s deputy about speeding up to 140 mph has landed the Lake Havasu City politician – and his campaign for re-election – in hot water.
While on his way home to Havasu in late March, Mosley was stopped by La Paz County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steven Maya on State Route 95 near milepost 146, north of Parker, for traveling 97 miles per hour in his Lexus LS 400 and weaving in and out of traffic to pass other vehicles. The speed limit in the area is 55 miles per hour, according to the sheriff’s department’s report on the incident.
According to video footage extracted from Maya’s body camera, Mosley told the deputy that he had previously driven between 120 and 140 miles per hour along the same route. “I go 130, 140, 120, yeah,” Mosley said. “Yeah, I come down (Interstate 10) I was going 120 almost. You know, if there was no traffic.”
While talking with the officer, Mosley reportedly told the deputy that, as a government official, legislative immunity prevented him from getting a ticket for the criminal speeding, according to the report.
“Mosley stated he was just in a hurry to get home to surprise his family in Lake Havasu City Arizona. Mosley also told me that I should just let him go and that I shouldn’t waste anymore of my time dealing with him due to his immunity as a government official,” the report states.
According to the Arizona Constitution, lawmakers “shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, and they shall not be subject to any civil process during the session of the legislature, nor for fifteen days next before the commencement of each session.”
House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said he was “disturbed” by the video.
“Nothing short of an emergency justifies that kind of speeding, and assertions of immunity in that situation seem outside the intent of the constitutional provision regarding legislative immunity,” said Mesnard, R-Chandler.
State Rep. Randall Friese, D-Tucson, who is the assistant minority leader in the house, told the Arizona Republic he doesn’t believe diplomatic immunity applies to speeding. “We are not above the law. … Mr. Mosley appears to think that we are,” he said. Further, the Republic reported that State Rep. Mark Finchem, a Republican from Oro Valley, filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee about the incident.
“It’s unseemly,” Finchem told the Republic. “It’s misbehavior that I think needs to be called out as unbecoming.”
Not long after the video’s publication on several websites Thursday morning, the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police distributed a press release saying it was withdrawing its endorsement of Mosley in the Aug. 28 primary election.
“Rep. Mosley’s recklessness, his demeanor and his utter disregard for the safety of the public represent the exact opposite of what the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police looks for in an elected official,” said John Ortolano, president of the organization, in the release. “Potentially lethal speeding isn’t a joke. We will not stand with those who think it’s acceptable or funny to risk the lives of others while behind the wheel of a lethal weapon.”
While Mosley did not return multiple calls from Today’s News-Herald and did not appear to be at his Havasu home Thursday afternoon, he issued an apology to his personal Facebook page stating that his comments about driving at high speeds were jokes.
“I would like to apologize to my colleagues and constituents, as well as law enforcement, for my conduct on March 27th, 2018, which is shown in the recently-released video,” he wrote.” My desire to get home to see my family does not justify how fast I was speeding nor my reference to legislative immunity when being pulled over. Legislative immunity is a serious responsibility and should not be taken lightly or abused. In addition, my jokes about frequently driving over 100 miles per hour during my 3-hour commute to and from the capitol were entirely inappropriate and showed extremely bad judgement on my part, for which I am truly sorry. I have no excuse for any of this, only regret of my actions, a hope for forgiveness and a commitment that it will not happen again.”
La Paz County Sheriff’s Cpt. Curt Bagby, spokesman for the department, said that because of the immunity law, the agency could not give Mosley, or any other lawmaker in a legislative session, a ticket for minor traffic or misdemeanor offenses, among others.
The session ended in early-May.
“What the officer did was proper…(and) even if he didn’t agree with what he had to do, he remained professional and that’s a really good thing,” said Bagby, adding that the deputy followed procedure by filling out a “long form” report and submitting it to the La Pa County Attorney’s Office.
La Paz County Attorney Tony Rogers wrote in an email to Today’s News-Herald Thursday that the department received the sheriff’s report but requested the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council to find another agency to review it “to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.” As a member of the Arizona House Representatives representing District 5, Mosley represents La Paz County.
An official with the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council was not immediately available to comment Thursday but reportedly told the website ParkerLiveOnline that it had sent the case to Cochise County for review.
Cochise County Attorney Brian M. McIntyre says a complaint has not yet been filed.
“I do not believe the ethical rules permit me to say whether I intend to charge the matter or not, however,” McIntyre wrote in an email. “I am able to say that it will be reviewed consistent with our ethical obligations and a charging decision will be made as time and resources permit.”