Video has emerged of a state lawmaker being pulled over for driving way over the speed limit. The man’s encounter with the sheriff’s deputy is going viral, not because of the speed the lawmaker was driving, but because the man claims that he can speed with impunity. Being a state representative, he claims, gives him immunity.
That claim of immunity is shocking enough, but Arizona State Rep. Paul Mosley went on to brag that he frequently drives at speeds in excess of 140 mph.
This one encounter happened on March 27 outside of Parker, Arizona. The area is rural, sparsely populated, and in Mosley’s district.
The La Paz County Sheriff’s deputy pulled Mosley over for going 97 mph in a 55 mph zone.
Mosley told the deputy to ignore the stop, as he has legislative immunity. “I don’t break the law because I can, but because, you know, I’m just trying to get home,” Mosley said.
After the video emerged, Mosley issued an apology. “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,” he said. The claim of immunity, he says, was just a joke.
“While the state constitution does provide for certain kinds of legislative immunity, it’s generally intended for actions related to legislative acts, according to a state manual. And a document from November 2002 shared by the House Rules Committee says speeding tickets — as well as violations for driving under the influence — aren’t covered,” The NY Daily News writes.
Did the deputy issue a ticket? That is not yet a matter of public record. Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre’s office is currently investigating the incident. The La Paz County Attorney’s Office had to pass the case off to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
“I do not believe the ethical rules permit me to say whether I intend to charge the matter or not, however,” McIntyre wrote in a statement. “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.”
“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,” Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard said.
Mosley, a Republican, is running for reelection. This incident’s exposure is costing him support, though. “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,” John Ortolano, President of The Arizona Fraternal Order of Police said as his group pulled its endorsement of Mosley.
“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.”