Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers has released a statement on a restraining order against a local reporter that she filed.
Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers, a Republican from Flagstaff, has obtained a restraining order against a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times, Camryn Sanchez, who covers the state Senate, barring her from contacting Rogers at home. Flagstaff Justice Court Magistrate Judge Amy Criddle signed the order on April 19th after a petition from Rogers. However, Criddle’s order does not appear to show Sanchez doing anything out of the ordinary in her job as a reporter.
Sanchez was investigating where Rogers lives, according to a Capitol Times article about the court order, specifically an “injunction against harassment.” State law requires lawmakers to reside in the legislative district they represent, and Sanchez was investigating properties in Tempe and Chandler that Rogers owned; the senator lists a Flagstaff address in paperwork related to her office.
Rogers posted Ring doorbell photos of Sanchez ringing doorbells and standing outside one of the homes and wrote on social media that a “creepy” reporter was “stalking me and my neighbors at my private residences with no explanation,” and that a judge had issued the order for Sanchez’s “bizarre behavior.” In a written statement released by the state Senate, Rogers said that she doesn’t know what Sanchez “is capable of” and that no one “in their right mind would show up uninvited to my home at night. Therefore, I don’t trust that this person wouldn’t lash out and try to physically harm me in some fashion.”
Gary Grado, Capitol Times executive editor, did not return a voicemail. Sanchez declined to comment. Rogers was censured last year for stating on social media that her political enemies should be hanged. She did not return an e-mail or phone call seeking comment.
Rogers told the court that Sanchez rang the doorbell at her properties “near the Capitol” on April 18th and asked an electrician working for Rogers and her husband about the senator’s “whereabouts.” Rogers also told the court that Sanchez had approached her on the Senate floor in February and “persisted with questioning me even when rebuffed.”
The petition states that Rogers submitted the complaint “at the urging of the Arizona Senate president” and asked that Sanchez “not be permitted access to the Arizona Senate.” Senate President Warren Petersen said in an interview that Sanchez can still access the state Senate “as long as she doesn’t approach (Rogers) at her desk.” But he defended Rogers for obtaining the injunction and noted that Criddle, a “disinterested third party,” approved it. “She was pretty upset about it,” he said of Rogers. When Rogers asked what she could do about Sanchez, he told her one remedy was to obtain a restraining order.
The incident has prompted concern about press freedom and censorship. The Arizona Capitol Times released a statement saying it was “concerned about any action that would impede a reporter’s ability to do their job.” The Society of Professional Journalists Arizona chapter issued a statement saying it was “alarmed” by the order and urged the court to “revisit the decision.” The First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit organization that advocates for free speech and government transparency, also expressed concern about the order.
You can read the full statement below:
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