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Committee finds Arizona Democrat violated House rules by hiding Bibles

The ethics committee found that Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton displayed "disorderly conduct" by hiding Bibles at the Arizona Capitol.

PHOENIX — A Democratic lawmaker displayed "disrespectful" and "disorderly" behavior by hiding Bibles at the Arizona Capitol earlier this year, according to a committee assigned to investigate the legislator's conduct.

State Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, D-Tucson, got caught moving around copies of the Bible and placing them underneath cushions or inside a fridge. 

The legislator apologized for her actions and said her intent was to highlight the separation of church and state. 

"The intent was never to be destructive. To never desecrate or to offend," Stahl Hamilton said on the House floor in April.

But the House ethics committee could not conclude that Stahl Hamilton's apology was "complete" and found her repeated actions constituted as "disorderly behavior."

In a report released Friday, the committee of lawmakers concluded that Stahl Hamilton's actions "violated" her obligation to protect the integrity of the House.

The committee further took issue with the locations the lawmaker chose to conceal the Bibles, finding her conduct disrespectful by hiding the holy texts in a place where they could have been sat upon.

"Representative Stahl Hamilton could have placed the bibles on a bookshelf or even placed them on the Sergeant at Arms' desk after removing them from their usual places and still accomplished her stated goal," the committee's report states.

After finding that the lawmaker violated the House rules, the ethics committee recommended the House as a whole decide if any disciplinary measures should be taken. 

Stahl Hamilton would not be the first Arizona lawmaker to be punished for questionable conduct at the House. Earlier this year, Republican Liz Harris was expelled after she invited a controversial speaker to a legislative hearing.

House Democratic leaders released the following statement in reaction to the committee report:

“Our leadership team has seen the Ethics Committee report and we accept its findings. However, we also accept the apologies delivered by Representative Stahl Hamilton to her colleagues when this issue first came to light, and subsequently. She has owned her actions. We will not engage in any further divisive rhetoric or political opportunism that this incident has inspired. It is time to focus and devote our attention to the important work we have left at our Capitol." 

The full ethics report on Stahl Hamilton can be read below:

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