Arizona House Expels Far-Right Lawmaker After Wild Conspiracy-Laden Hearing

An ethics committee found that Liz Harris “violated the inherent obligation to protect the integrity of the House.”

The Republican-controlled Arizona state House has voted to expel a far-right first-term representative after the lawmaker invited a conspiracy theorist to testify during an election integrity hearing ― only for the witness to falsely accuse judges, lawmakers and other public servants across the state of being bribed by Mexican cartels.

Now-former state Rep. Liz Harris (R), known for her far-right politics and conspiracy theories about Democratic election wins, was expelled with bipartisan support by a 46-13 vote in the state House. An ethics probe had recently found that Harris had engaged in “disorderly behavior” for inviting the conspiracy theorist witness.

HuffPost reported on the false bribery allegations last month, based on extensive interviews with the witness and her boyfriend and investigative partner. The pair, John Thaler and Jacqueline Breger, accused Thaler’s ex-wife of falsifying signatures on countless housing deeds and other official documents as a method of laundering bribe money from Mexican drug cartels to Arizona public officials. Breger testified during an elections hearing in the legislature; Thaler lives outside of the state, claiming to HuffPost and others that he did not feel safe in Arizona.

House Speaker Ben Toma (R) ― “just one of many state legislators with documents evidencing the acceptance of bribes through the phony mortgage scheme,” a document from Breger falsely alleged ― introduced the Harris expulsion resolution Wednesday, which received well more votes than the two-thirds of the chamber needed.

“The truth is on my side,” Harris said before the vote, the Arizona Republic reported.

Breger’s testimony in March was fiery, directly (and falsely) alleging that dozens of public servants were on the take.

“Given that Arizona is a border state and that drug smuggling and human trafficking is a billion-dollar business, it would appear that having our elected and appointed officials ensure that the cartel enterprise remains open for business would be paramount,” Breger said during her testimony. Among other things, she alleged that “the City of Mesa is a racketeering organization” and that nonexistent “phantoms” were employed as attorneys and election officials.

Breger told HuffPost that she’d met with Harris before her testimony, and that Harris described her and Thaler’s work as “very enlightening” and “pertinent” to Harris’ own election work; prior to being elected to office, Harris herself issued an extremely flawed report that falsely alleged that votes had been cast in the 2020 election from vacant lots, among other errors.

Breger and Thaler’s allegations tore the Arizona Republican Party in two: On one side were Republicans ― even some far-right members ― who Breger and Thaler had said appeared to be on the take from Mexican cartels. They, of course, were outraged. On the other side, Arizonans who believed the accusations were disgusted with the accused ― and even with Harris herself, who eventually distanced herself from the outlandish testimony after her colleagues grew furious with her.

The shock at Breger’s testimony ― and Harris’ decision to invite it ― extended to the lowest levels of the Republican Party: Dom Caglioti, a GOP volunteer, told HuffPost he’d communicated with Thaler following the 2022 election as he attempted to run down voters’ concerns about election integrity. He quickly realized that Thaler blamed everything on forgeries allegedly committed by his ex-wife.

“It still shocks me that anyone gave him a microphone without flushing out with 100% accuracy what he’s accusing,” Caglioti said.

Thaler, for his part, failed to provide answers to key questions about his supposed evidence. After claiming, for example, that a judge had deemed his allegations about bribery in the judicial system to be credible, he refused to provide the court filing showing that this was true. “I can’t tell you why I won’t tell you what it is,” Thaler said in a phone call.

The House Ethics Committee report that preceded the vote stated that “Harris knew or was at least aware that Breger would present criminal allegations at the Joint Hearing and [the committee] REJECTS Representative Harris’s testimony to the contrary,” and that “Representative Harris was not surprised or upset by Breger’s testimony.”

The report added: “Representative Harris violated the inherent obligation to protect the integrity of the House.”

Popular in the Community


What's Hot