Arizona Capitol

Drunk-Driving Lawmaker Accuses Reporter of Drug Problem After Question on Affair

TV reporter Dennis Welch appears briefly stunned after a lawmaker accuses him of a drug problem for asking a question.
Twitter: @dennis_welch
TV reporter Dennis Welch appears briefly stunned after a lawmaker accuses him of a drug problem for asking a question.
State Representative David Cook, the rancher Republican under fire for writing love letters to a married lobbyist, did not appreciate it when CBS5 News/3TV reporter Dennis Welch asked him about his alleged affair.

Welch tweeted this glorious exchange he had with Cook as a preview of a story set to air at 5 p.m. today:

When approached by Welch in the parking lot of the House of Representatives, Cook baselessly accused Welch of having a substance abuse problem and threatened to report him to his editor.

"If you have a problem with substance abuse, I am more than willing to talk to you anytime you need because I think you do," Cook told Welch. "You call me and other members late at night, and I'm thinking about going to see your editor."

Welch handled Cook's rant with the poise of a reporter who has been punched by former Governor Jan Brewer for having the gall to ask about climate change. As Cook storms away, Welch allows himself only a briefly dumbfounded look to betray his poker face.

A little bird told us he's been diligently reporting out Cook's alleged affair and a related conflict of interest for some time, and tonight's story promises some pretty juicy additional details.

If you're just getting caught up: The Yellow Sheet first reported that lobbyist AnnaMarie Knorr has been placed on administrative leave by the Western Growers Association after love letters between her and Cook surfaced. Cook sent Knorr letters with sketches of hearts and referred to her as "my love."

Both Cook and Knorr, who are both married, deny having any romantic relationship. Knorr has alleged that the reports are the product of a smear campaign from her father, the powerful cattle industry lobbyist Bas Aja, and her estranged husband, whom she wants to divorce.

Oh, and if the pairing of "substance abuse" and "Cook" rings any bells, you're probably thinking of the time he berated a state trooper in 2018 after he was pulled over on suspicion of driving drunk. In the locally famous incident, Cook reportedly handed the trooper his House of Representatives identification card when asked for his driver's license. He also told his arresting officer: "Do you know what you're doing, son?"

Cook pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and spent a day in jail.

Update (1/22/2020, 7:10 p.m.): Welch called New Times after the publication of this story. On his encounter with Cook, he said: "I’ve had a lot of experience talking to folks like this. I get a lot of no comments. You have to give lawmakers the opportunity to respond and that’s what I did and he chose to answer that way."