Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order on Friday limiting legislative immunity for lawmakers. The order empowers state law enforcement officers to cite elected officials for criminal violations such as speeding or reckless driving.
The immunity provision in the Arizona Constitution was under new scrutiny after a Republican state representative, Paul Mosley, was caught on a body camera bragging to a sheriff’s deputy about how he drives at speeds of 130 to 140 mph.
The video released last week shows an incident in March where Mosley was pulled over in La Paz County for driving 97 mph on a 55-mph road.
“I don’t break the law because I can,” Mosley told the officer, who let him go with a warning after Mosley cited the legislative immunity provision in the Constitution.
The executive order is intended to clarify language in the state Constitution, according to the governor’s statement.
The Constitution says that state legislators “shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace” and are exempt from civil processes during the legislative session and 15 days before the start of the next session.
As a result of the order, Department of Public Safety and Department of Transportation officers can enforce speeding violations or driving under the influence for lawmakers because these violations qualify as a “breach of the peace.”
After the body-camera footage was released, the Arizona Republic reported that Mosley has something of a lead foot. The Lake Havasu City lawmaker has received warnings for speeding on five occasions since February 2017 from DPS officers. Additionally, Mosley once received a warning for blowing past a stop sign.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
After the publication of the body-camera footage, Mosley apologized. Lawmakers including Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard began to question the extent of legislative immunity as a result.
The governor's executive order cites a need to ensure officers don't ignore violations when elected officials pressure them to look the other way.
In a statement, Ducey said that the order gives officers the tools to “hold all bad actors accountable.”
“No one is above the law, and certainly not politicians,” Ducey said in the statement. “Everyone should know that, but clearly a reminder is needed.”