Congressional candidate accused of turning blind eye to child brides, abuse

Updated:
Andy Biggs (Source: @andybiggs4az via Twitter) Andy Biggs (Source: @andybiggs4az via Twitter)
Biggs will remain president of the Arizona Senate through the end of the year. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Biggs will remain president of the Arizona Senate through the end of the year. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

We're one week away from the primary election and one of the Republican front-runners in Arizona's 5th congressional district is facing harsh criticism over his time as president of the Arizona Senate. 

A pair of Republican lawmakers say Andy Biggs turned a blind eye to child abuse in the polygamist community of Colorado City, a community where underage girls are routinely forced into marrying older men, and young boys are frequently driven out of town.

A 2013 bill sought to dismantle the town's police force, which has been accused of swearing allegiance to self-proclaimed polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs and not the public they are supposed to serve. 

The bill easily passed out of the House but later died in the Senate. 

Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Republican from Scottsdale, and Kelly Townsend, a Republican from Gilbert, say Biggs was the one responsible.

Townsend is supporting one of Biggs' primary opponents while Ugenti-Rita has not taken a side in the four-way race

RELATED: 4 Republicans battle to replace retiring Rep. Matt Salmon

They say they're speaking out now because they believe voters need to know more about the man who could be their next congressman. 

Biggs refused to sit down for an interview, but later issued a statement through a consultant claiming there were constitutional issues with the proposal. 

Despite attempts by the liberal media to distort and smear his record in the legislature, Andy Biggs has a long-time reputation of championing law and order legislation and is proud to have the endorsements from County Attorney Bill Montgomery, the Arizona Police Association and the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police.

As with all legislation, Andy is a notoriously meticulous student when making decisions on whether or not to support a bill. One of the primary factors that Andy Biggs weighs heavily is constitutionality. While Biggs believed that HB 2648, a bill from 2013, had too many constitutional impediments to support it, he still chose to assign it to committees for further review. Ultimately, HB 2648 was never passed out of Senate committees and died on its own.

While the sponsor of HB 2648 may have had good intentions to clean up corruption within the law enforcement of Colorado City, the bill itself was considered “special legislation” since it only applied to one community. Furthermore, HB 2648 also had jurisdictional issues, since the Arizona Legislature was attempting to solve a complex issue taking place in another state. Lastly, law enforcement groups also opposed HB 2648 because it gave unlawful legislative authority to another quasi-executive agency, and had serious due process concerns, since officers with no evidence of wrongdoing could be decertified for no reason. 

Both Ugenti-Rita and Townsend say Biggs never explained why he didn't do more to save the bill, or, if he had a problem with it, propose an alternative.

The federal government is now considering taking the same action of decertifying the police department and allowing the local sheriff's office to take over. 

Biggs has the endorsement of Rep. Matt Salmon, who announced his retirement February.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


  • Social Connect

  • Contact

    AZ Family

Dennis WlechVeteran political reporter Dennis Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona.

Dennis Welch
Political Editor

Before making the move to television, Welch wrote and edited for the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California. Welch is a well-respected political expert in Arizona and his addition means 3TV will provide a stronger, more robust political presence in Arizona. He joins 3TV from the Arizona Guardian, a highly influential online news site dedicated to Arizona politics and government where he served as owner and editor. During his Guardian days, Welch was a frequent guest on “Politics Unplugged” and has been a regular fixture on the state political landscape since 2005 appearing on numerous radio and television talk shows. “I am thrilled to start working with such a talented and dedicated staff of journalists,” said Welch. “This is a great opportunity to broaden the reach of my political coverage and tell stories that affect Arizona voters and their families.” With more than 13 years of experience under his belt, Welch’s arrival only strengthens 3TV’s commitment to providing first-rate political and government coverage across all platforms. When not covering politics, Welch is an avid runner and fronts a punk rock band that plays frequently throughout the Southwest and California.

Hide bio