An Arizona state lawmaker was reportedly pulled over for speeding in the Lake Havasu City a couple of months ago. However, instead of being apologetic about the transgression, he decided to play the power card and touted his position a government official – which he apparently thought puts him above the law.
According to the recently released body cam footage by a La Paz County sheriff's deputy, GOP Rep. Paul Mosley was driving 97 mph in a 55 mph zone. When the deputy stopped him from swerving in and out of the traffic, he claimed "legislative immunity" prevents him from getting a ticket for speeding.
As it’s normally done, the deputy got out of his patrol vehicle to warn the driver to watch his speed out of safety. However, Mosley wasn’t too concerned about breaking the law as he very conveniently waved a placard outside his window, indicating he was an elected official.
“I explained the reason for the stop to Mosley and asked if there was any reason he was traveling so fast,” the deputy wrote in the report. “I informed Mosley that 97 mph in a 55 mph zone is considered criminal speed. Mosley stated he was just in a hurry to get home to surprise his family in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Mosley also told me that I should just let him go and that I shouldn’t waste anymore of my time dealing with him due to his immunity as a government official.”
However that wasn’t it, as Mosley went on to brag about driving even faster.
The Republican could be heard saying on the video that he sometimes drives at “120, 130.”
“Really?” the deputy asked.
“Yeah, this goes 140. That’s what I like about it,” said the smirking lawmaker, referring to his car.
According to the state’s law, driving over 85 mph on Arizona’s highways and freeways is regarded as criminal speeding—a Class 3 misdemeanor that usually gets fined.
"I don't break the law because I can," Mosley added, according to the video, saying he was rushing so that he could surprise his family.
"I'm not going to lecture you," the deputy said, ending the conversation. "You have a good day sir."
For obvious reasons, Mosley’s blatant exploitation of authority sparked widespread anger amongst law enforcement officials and other lawmakers.
“Rep. Mosley’s recklessness, his demeanor and his utter disregard for the safety of the public represent the exact opposite of what the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police looks for in an elected official,” said Arizona Fraternal Order of Police President John Ortolano.
“Potentially lethal speeding isn’t a joke. We will not stand with those who think it’s acceptable or funny to risk the lives of others while behind the wheel of a lethal weapon,” he added.
The police department also announced it has pulled its political endorsement of Mosley.
Mosley’s laid back attitude about something so serious was equally disturbing for House Speaker J.D. Mesnard.
“Nothing short of an emergency justifies that kind of speeding, and assertions of immunity in that situation seem outside the intent of the constitutional provision regarding legislative immunity,” said Mesnard (R-Chandler).
Adding to the long list of critics, Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Oro Valley) also filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee about the incident. He said he was shocked to witness such “egregious” behavior from a lawmaker. He also said its instances like these that distorts the publics’ view of elected officials.
“It’s unseemly,” Finchem explained. “It’s misbehavior that I think needs to be called out as unbecoming.”
Amid the massive backlash, Mosley posted an apology on his Facebook account.
It is important to mention Arizona’s constitution does provide legislative immunity where lawmakers are "privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace."
But the immunity has certain restrictions. The constitutional provision states “lawmakers cannot be subject to civil proceedings while the Legislature is in session.” That means the immunity is applicable only when lawmakers are in middle of legislative duties— and not when they are driving at a “criminal” speed so they can allegedly surprise their spouses at home.
Mosley also made headlines last year after saying he would repeal the Arizona law that requires children to go to school.
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