Lawmakers want revenge-porn investigation into Ugenti-Rita's fiance

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Rep. Anthony Kern, Glendale. Feb. 2, 2018 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Rep. Anthony Kern, Glendale. Feb. 2, 2018 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Multiple state lawmakers are now pushing for an investigation into the fiance of Rep. Michele Ugenti-Rita for allegedly violating the state's revenge-porn law.

The allegation stems from the 82-page sexual harassment investigation that brought down the once powerful Rep. Don Shooter this week.

Brian Townsend, a former legislative staff member and lobbyist, told investigators that he sent "sexually explicit communications" to "hurt and humiliate (Ugenti-Rita)."

Investigators were looking into accusations made by Shooter that Ugenti-Rita and Townsend sent explicit messages to people identified in the report only as "Interviewee 2 and "Interviewee 3."

Had Ugenti-Rita participated in sending explicit messages, she would have been in a tough spot.

She was the first woman to publicly accuse Shooter of harassment.

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

However, investigators cleared Ugenti-Rita of any wrong doing, concluding that, "Mr. Townsend acted alone and without Ms. Ugenti-Rita's knowledge or participation when committing the egregious and potentially unlawful acts."

Following the release of the report, Rep. Anthony Kern, a Republican from Glendale, said he wanted a separate investigation into the incident.

"I will be drafting a letter to the Attorney General and the Maricopa County Attorney in response to an alleged unwelcoming harassing and offensive communication by a Mr. Brian Townsend," Kern said Thursday on the House floor.

Kern's comments came as lawmakers were voting to expel Shooter from the House for sexual harassment and lewd behavior.

[RELATED:AZ House votes to expel Rep. Don Shooter]

[RELATED:Gun removed from Don Shooter's office before expulsion vote]

On Friday, Rep. Maria Syms, a Republican from Paradise Valley, voiced her support for a separate investigation into Townsend, who did not return calls for comment on Friday.

"Over the next week or so, I think a number of us are going to have questions and may sit down with the investigator to get some clarification on those things," Syms said. 

A spokesman for the Attorney General's office said they are aware of the allegations made in the sexual harassment report but have not yet received a letter from Kern.

The state's revenge-porn law says it's illegal to distribute nude or sexual images on someone without permission and is a class 4 felony carrying a maximum sentence of nearly 9 years in prison.

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