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State Senator receives police protection after no vote on Monday

Posted at 7:10 PM, Feb 09, 2021

PHOENIX — State Senator Paul Boyer and his family were provided police protection Monday night after Boyer’s no vote derailed a Republican effort to hold the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in contempt for failing to turn over voting information the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed. Boyer’s change of heart did not go over well with Republicans.

Democrats looked on as Boyer absorbed an hour of rhetorical abuse from members of his own caucus. Some like Tucson State Senator Victoria Steele, believed Boyer was being threatened. “When one person in their own caucus stands up to them they’re targeted,” Steele said.

In her remarks before voting yes, State Senator Kelly Townsend said, “If you say you’re going to vote along with your caucus and do not, your word is never going to be trusted again. So now it’s in the hands of the public and I’m understanding that several groups, that are independent, formed a coalition to take on this on their own.”

Senator Boyer interpreted the statement as a threat. “I missed her comment since Karen (Senate President Karen Fann) was leaning on me trying to change my vote,” Boyer said. “But when I heard about her comments I immediately became worried for my family. I’ve never reached out to DPS before for a police presence until yesterday. I’ve had two sheriff’s deputies outside my home since yesterday.”

Senator Townsend she was not advocating violence. Her threat was political. “I was very specific about what I meant. There are issues that we apparently can’t take care of at the Senate on our own. There is another avenue, the public. They can get things on the ballot and they can recall people.”

“Let's give her the benefit of the doubt that’s what she was saying. Put that into perspective with everything that has just happened in our nation over the last month,” Senator Martin Quezada (D) Phoenix District 29 said.

“The President himself did the exact same thing and look what happened.” Quezada calls Townsend’s remarks irresponsible. “The only thing that should happen is she needs to be held accountable right away.”

Quezada says Townsend's remarks will be discussed Wednesday when Senate Democratic leaders meet with Senate President Fann.

Senator Townsend says there was no hidden message in what she said. “I was very clear. I wasn’t telling them to go be violent. I find it funny that every time I say something, someone can interpret it as some violence. What lens are they looking through?"