“Representative Shooter repeatedly referred to his male genitalia as a ‘gun,’” Arizona Representative Wenona Benally wrote on Twitter in November. Bennally was one of the numerous women and one man who has now accused Republican Representative Don Shooter, the name of a real man and not a cartoon character, of sexual harassment. The allegations against Shooter were made public in November, eventually swelling to nine people, including a former newspaper intern and colleagues, and range from non-consensual touching, to inappropriate comments, and unwanted sexualized conversation.
The first and perhaps most prominent of those who have alleged sexual harassment is Representative Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a member of Shooter’s own party. “There was an incident where he came to my office during the day and asked about my chest,” Ugenti-Rita told a local news station. “At a conference, he came to my room uninvited with a six-pack of beer. I never answered the door.” The Washington Post reports that, following Ugenti-Rita’s allegations, Shooter initially apologized before retracting that apology and accusing her of having an extra-marital affair with a staffer.
That seems to be Shooter’s preferred method of responding to the mounting sexual harassment allegations, to avoid apologizing and instead refocus responsibility elsewhere. On Tuesday, during mandatory legislative training on harassment, the very existence of which was partially the result of allegations against Shooter, he offered a formal apology that began with a joke. “Members, I know you all want to thank me for my part in bringing you here today,” Shooter said, the Arizona Capitol Times reports.
Shooter then pointed fingers at Ugenti-Rita, without directly mentioning her name. The allegations, he said, had “been greatly magnified as a result of a complaint that was filed against me for reasons that I believe are largely unrelated to the complaint itself.” He went on to apologize to some of the people, noting that some of his “actions that caused damage or hurt,” while reiterating that others were simply a vendetta.
Congratulations to Don Shooter for offering a master class on how not to apologize for sexually harassing nine people.