State Senator's angry voicemail could lead to ethics investigation

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A pair of Republican lawmakers are accusing a powerful state Senator of using his power to get revenge and want him kicked out of office.

State Represenatives Brenda Barton and John Fillmore on Tuesday called for Sen. Rich Crandall to be brought up on ethics charges. This comes after Crandall left an angry phone message with Barton threatening to kill her bills in the future.

"You know I'm furious at you right now and you better not try to run any education legislation what-so-ever the next two years... I'm furious at what you did," Crandall said last week

Crandall, a Republican from Mesa, is the chairman of the Senate Education Committee. That gives him the power to effectively kill legislation in his committee by refusing to give it a hearing.

The political dust-up is centered on an on-going fight in which Barton saw Crandall's teenage daughter and another girl ripping down campaign signs belonging to Fillmore.

"Ladies and gentlemen the bottom line is two-fold." Barton said during a press conference. "A member of the Arizona Senate and the chairman of the education committee should not put petty revenge above the good of the people of Arizona by killing good potential legislation for Arizona school children."

Fillmore, a Republican from Apache Junction, said Crandall's comments were inappropriate for a state lawmaker and called them sexist.

"What I heard in the tone of voice is something that 35 or 40 years ago I might have used in a moment of anger toward a woman," Fillmore said.

Crandall was out of town on business, but said in a telephone interview Tuesday that his telephone rant was him acting as a protective father.

"I  was a furious father," Crandall said. "That is not how you gain the confidence of a committee chair...this is just about campaigns."

Barton and Fillmore say they will file the formal ethics complaint soon. If the Senate takes up the issue, Crandall could get kicked out of office.

During the past year, two state lawmakers have resigned amid ethics hearings.