Ethics complaints against State Rep. David Cook claim he had an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist and may have been involved in an improper deal to save the lobbyist’s farm equipment from government seizure.
The ethics complaints were released Wednesday afternoon. If the allegations are true, they could jeopardize Cook’s seat in the legislature, his family life, and political allies.
According to one complainant, some of the allegations could even be violations of the law.
It’s unclear how long it could take the House Ethics Committee to research the complaints and hold hearings.
Two members of the committee asked to be replaced. Due to their close relationships with Cook, they were concerned they would not be viewed as impartial.
The first claim, submitted by Jannell Alewyn, was sent in reaction to a discovery that Cook sent apparent love letters to agriculture lobbyist AnnaMarie Knorr.
She worked closely with Cook on several bills.
Alewyn’s complaint said, “A legislator who is in a notoriously compromised relationship with a favor-seeking lobbyist has lost the trust of the public and must not be allowed to contaminate the legislative process.”
The second complaint alleges Cook pressured Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb to stop the 2018 civil forfeiture process on farm equipment owned by Knorr’s family.
The family risked losing the equipment over unpaid taxes. According to the county treasurer, Knorr Farms and its affiliated companies still owed $140,000 at the end of January.
According to the letter, Knorr’s father had at least tried to write a campaign check to sheriff lamb in return for delaying the seizure
“The sheriff is obligated to collect or impound property to collect taxes that are unpaid,” said complainant Kevin Cavanaugh, a former Lamb employee and political ally. “It is completely improper and a criminal offense if, in fact, it’s all proven to be true.”
Sheriff Lamb said there was no quid pro quo or campaign money exchanged. “Mr Cook never asked me to do anything for the Knorrs, nor did I receive anything from the Knorrs to not proceed on the tax issue,” Sheriff Lamb said. “This was something that we wanted to make sure that everybody and every business is afforded every opportunity to take care of a tax issue.”
Rep,. Cook attended the State House’s floor session Wednesday; however, he did not respond to interview requests.