Confederate flag display places Arizona lawmakers at odds

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Rep. Geraldine Peten of Goodyear. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Rep. Geraldine Peten of Goodyear. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (AP) -

An Arizona lawmaker said she was offended at a Confederate flag display on a colleague's laptop at the state Capitol.

Rep. Geraldine Peten of Goodyear witnessed a Confederate flag displayed as a screen saver on a laptop belonging to Rep. Todd Clodfelter of Tucson who was seated a row below Peten during the House's mandatory sexual harassment training Tuesday.

[RELATED: All 33,000 Arizona state workers to get harassment training]

The Goodyear Democrat said the display "creates a hostile work environment," and she plans to discuss the matter with the Tucson Republican.

"For me, it is a symbol of hatred, bigotry, it's racism, and slavery," Peten said. 

But Clodfelter said his family is from the South, and his perspective of the flag is different from Peten's. To him, it represents the sovereignty of the states. 

"The design of the flag to me is very artistic, and being that I'm in graphic design, I like the appearance of it," Clodfelter said.

Another lawmaker, Rep. Jay Lawrence, likened it to NFL players kneeling.

"With regard with what you might show on your screen saver that is offensive, I would find it offensive seeing NFL players kneeling when the Star-Spangled Banner is being played so equal offensive items," said Lawrence.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Politics]

[READ MORE: Paul Ryan orders mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff]

Peten said she discussed the issue with Clodfelter, and he agreed to not bring the computer to work anymore, but the image will stay on his computer.

"You cant change anyone's mind or perspective, but at least the physical tangible thing is gone," Peten said.

"I feel like what is my personal property is my right to have, and I don't need to tiptoe and hide things that are who I am," Clodfelter said. 

Peten said, because they discussed it, she is not planning on filing a formal complaint. 

The Director of Communications for the state's House of Representatives sent us a statement saying:

A complaint and subsequent investigation would be needed to determine whether it violates any House policy. Fortunately, this matter has been resolved without a formal complaint and investigation.

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