GOP lawmakers defend election bills

Sens. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, and J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, to her right, lash out April 19, at some business leaders and the media, accusing them of misrepresenting what would be the effects of their proposed changes in election laws. /Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services 

Two Republican senators lashed out Monday at businesses and the media, accusing them of mischaracterizing what is in changes they are proposing to state election laws.

Michelle Ugenti-Rita of Scottsdale and J.D. Mesnard of Chandler said their measures simply add necessary layers of security to the election process. They said the terms of both bills and their motives have been distorted in news coverage.

But the pair, at a press conference backed by other GOP legislators, saved their harshest criticism for Greater Phoenix Leadership, an association of CEOs in business, education and philanthropy, some of whose members sent an open letter to legislators saying three bills — including the two both are sponsoring — “seek to disenfranchise voters.”

“They are attempts at voter suppression cloaked as reform — plain and simple,” the letter states.

Ugenti-Rita said it is okay to disagree with her bill or any others that lawmakers “represent in the name of election integrity.”

“But you don’t get to mischaracterize and lie about it,” she said.

She said it’s the process for people to debate the relative merits of legislation and suggest changes.

“But you don’t get to label everybody who may support it as racist,” Ugenti-Rita said. “We’re not going to be intimidated.”

There was no immediate response from GPL.

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