Agriculture group puts Arizona lobbyist on leave as lawmaker denies romantic relationship

Rep. David Cook, R-Globe/Howard Fischer / Capitol Media Services 2017 photo

By Andrew Oxford and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez | Arizona Republic 

An agriculture trade association has placed one of its lobbyists on leave amid questions about a possible romantic relationship with an Arizona legislator who serves on committees that play a central role in farm and ranch issues at the state Capitol.

Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, and AnnaMarie Knorr told The Arizona Republic in separate interviews that they are friends, and that their relationship did not cross ethical lines.

The Republic received a batch of handwritten letters earlier this month that portray a close relationship between Cook, a married rancher representing a rural Pinal County district, and Knorr, who works on legislation backed by the agricultural industry and is the daughter of an influential lobbyist.

Copies of the cards and letters were sent anonymously with the return address given as the state Capitol. In them, Cook referred to Knorr as “honey,” wrote that he missed her “terribly,” and signed the letters, “Love, David oxox.” 

The packet of letters sent to The Republic also contained photographs of what the anonymous sender said were Cook and Knorr together.

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