Abusing the system? State lawmaker cashes in on questioned residency

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Rep. Don Shooter wouldn't answer questions about where he lives. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Rep. Don Shooter wouldn't answer questions about where he lives. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Shooter claims an apartment in Yuma is his primary residence even though his wife has a house in the Valley. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Shooter claims an apartment in Yuma is his primary residence even though his wife has a house in the Valley. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Neighbors in Yuma said they didn't know Shooter that well. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Neighbors in Yuma said they didn't know Shooter that well. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

There's an old saying at the state Capitol that residency is a state of mind.

So where's Rep. Don Shooter's state of mind been for the past couple of years?

Is it in the legislative district he was elected to represent in Yuma?

Or nearly 200 miles away in Phoenix, where some say he really lives.

It's a question I found out that Shooter does not like answering.

"Where's your primary residence? Give me your address and I'll go visit you," Shooter told me on the House floor.

I asked about his "primary residence" because local property tax records show his wife owns a home in Phoenix.

She bought the house in June 2015 for $500,000, according to the Country Assessor.

She also lists that home as her "primary residence" on those same records.

It makes sense for her to live in town since she works for the Arizona Department of Education in Phoenix.

However, her husband represents Legislative District 13, which includes large swaths of Yuma and western Maricopa counties.

Shooter lists a small rental residence in Yuma as his address on campaign and financial disclosure forms.

So I traveled to Yuma to get a closer look.

A woman claiming to be Shooter's landlord said the lawmaker does rent out the apartment.

But how much times does he spend there?

An APS representative said the average utility bill for the apartment is $56 a month.

His neighbors were not very chatty but said they didn't know much about the lawmaker living next door.

"I don't know him," said one man living directly next Shooter's apartment.

He also said Shooter may not be a full-time resident.

"It's problematic for the voters in Yuma County and in his district," said Tom Ryan, a Chandler attorney.

Ryan has brought legal challenges over the residency of lawmakers in the past.

He believes Shooter is gaming the state's loose residency laws at the expense of taxpayers, the voters who put him in office.

"It's problematic for us as taxpayers because we are basically subsidizing a half million dollar home," Ryan said.

Out of town lawmakers receive a higher per diem rate than lawmakers who live in the Valley.

This is meant to offset the out of town expenses such as housing and food that are associated with spending moths at the Capitol during the session.

Since June of 2015, Shooter has received roughly $17,000 in out of county per diem, according to legislative records.

Add in his mileage reimbursement, it's nearly $24,000 -- the equivalent of a lawmaker's yearly salary.

"He's effectively been able to double his legislative salary at a time Arizona families are struggling to make ends meet that's nothing more than just being shameful, shameful and greedy," Ryan said.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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.

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