GOP leadership retains outside counsel to investigate sexual harassment claims at AZ Capitol

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Michelle Ugenti-Rita claims she was harassed by Don Shooter. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Michelle Ugenti-Rita claims she was harassed by Don Shooter. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Rep. Don Shooter (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Rep. Don Shooter (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The Arizona House of Representatives is looking deeper into the allegations of sexual harassment at the state Capitol.

The chamber retained outside counsel Craig Morgan to investigate the claims, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard's office announced on Wednesday. 

[RELATED: New accuser charges Arizona lawmaker with sexual harassment]

Morgan with the law firm Sherman & Howard and served as special counsel to the House Ethics Committee in 2012 during its investigation into former Rep. Daniel Patterson, who was accused of domestic violence.

[RELATED: Publisher says Arizona lawmaker made offensive remarks]

“I agree with the decision of the House’s sexual harassment investigative team to retain Craig Morgan to conduct the investigation into allegations of sexual harassment at the Legislature,” said Speaker Mesnard in a statement. “I have confidence that Mr. Morgan will fairly and thoroughly investigate this matter in a timely manner.”

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Politics]

The announcement comes days after the Arizona Statehouse launched an investigation into claims of sexual harassment against Republican Rep. Don Shooter and other lawmakers.

[READ MORE: Arizona Statehouse launches sexual harassment investigation]

An eight-member bipartisan team will conduct an investigation that could lead to punishments ranging from a reprimand to getting kicked out of office. 

[RELATED: Arizona House launches sexual harassment investigations]

So far, nine women have accused Rep. Shooter of harassment. They include lobbyists, lawmakers, an employee at a risk management firm and the publisher of the Arizona Republic.

[READ MORE: Powerful lawmaker accused of sexual harassment at AZ State Capitol]

Rep. Shooter was suspended last Friday from leading the House Appropriations Committee.

[RELATED: Arizona lawmaker accused of sex remarks loses committee post]

Several people have called for Shooter to resign.

[READ MORE: Arizona lawmaker cites sexual harassment by male colleagues]

Shooter denied the allegations from Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita and accused her of pursuing an affair with a House staffer.

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