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Crime David Cook sent threatening messages after being confronted for 'drunkenness,' lobbyist says

16:40  24 january  2020
16:40  24 january  2020 Source:   azcentral.com

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An influential lobbyist told a top staff member at the Arizona House of Representatives that Rep. David Cook sent him threatening emails after the lobbyist confronted the lawmaker about excessive drinking.

a man in a suit and tie reading a book: Rep. David Cook asks a question during a hearing on HB 2540, January 29, 2019, in the Arizona House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, Energy and Water at the Arizona State Capitol.© Mark Henle/The Republic Rep. David Cook asks a question during a hearing on HB 2540, January 29, 2019, in the Arizona House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, Energy and Water at the Arizona State Capitol.

Bas Aja, lobbyist for the Arizona Cattle Feeders’ Association, confronted Cook last fall and then received "threatening emails on multiple occasions" from Cook in the middle of the night, Aja wrote in an email to the chief of staff for the House of Representatives.

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This is conviviality; but it has no relation to drunkenness . But such a scene of drunkenness was hardly ever seen in this country. The sexual passion has often been compared to drunkenness or to mental disease. The driver had been drinking and in his drunkenness he had thrashed the poor beast.

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In the Nov. 7 email to Michael Hunter, Aja wrote that Cook, R-Globe, did not correctly list the organization Aja represents as part of an ad hoc committee involving Pinal County.

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"In case you are wondering why Cook did not list us ... between you and I (and you can share it with Speaker if you need to) he got really angry with me 6 weeks ago when I confronted him about his drinking/drunkenness ... since that time he has sent threatening emails on multiple occasions to me at 1:30, 2:00 am while he was drunk," Aja wrote.

"When I confronted him I did it offering help — he did not accept it and went off the rails."

The Arizona Republic reached out to Cook for comment Thursday.

"No one ever said a word about that email to me," Cook said in a text message.

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Lobbying , persuasion, or interest representation is the act of attempting to influence the actions, policies, or decisions of officials, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies.

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He did not respond to a question about the allegation that he sent threatening emails to Aja.

A spokesman said House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, was informed of the email after his office received it.

Aja did not respond to the newspaper's requests for comment.

Cook spent a day in jail last year after he pleaded guilty in March 2019 to a misdemeanor charge of drunken driving stemming from his arrest on a Valley freeway in late 2018.

He originally was charged with an extreme DUI; his blood-alcohol level was near twice the legal limit. Cook has been open about his efforts at recovery.

Cook has used the issue of substance abuse to deflect questions about his conduct.

Earlier this week, Cook was approached by Dennis Welch, the political editor for 3TV (KTVK-TV) and CBS 5 (KPHO-TV), in the parking lot of the state Capitol.

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Messages . I am truly blessed to have someone like you in my life. I thank God for sending you to help me in my time of need. Quotes. "I need to find a church on Sunday. I need to say 'please' and 'thank you,' 'yes, sir' and 'no, ma' am .' Do the little things because that's part of being an adult."

Welch asked Cook about his relationship with Aja's daughter in an exchange that was aired by the station.

“Dennis, if you have a problem with substance abuse, I am more than willing to talk to you anytime you need, because I think you do,” Cook said. “Because you call me and other members late at night, and I’m thinking about going and seeing your editor.”

Andrew Wilder, spokesman for Bowers, said the speaker was troubled by the news reports about Cook. But he said there had not been any ethics complaints filed against the legislator.

Relationship with lobbyist questioned

The House of Representatives released the email Thursday in response to a request for public records involving Cook. The Republic began asking questions after receiving a trove of letters the Republican lawmaker wrote to Aja's daughter, AnnaMarie Knorr.

Those letters raised questions about the nature of the relationship between Cook and Knorr, a lobbyist for an agricultural trade association that has business before the Legislature. Their relationship has raised concerns about a conflict of interest because Cook sits on committees central to the industry Knorr represents.

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Knorr was placed on leave by Western Growers, an association of local and regional farms, amid questions about the situation. Western Growers said this week the organization was investigating Knorr's professional conduct.

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In separate interviews with The Republic earlier this month, Knorr and Cook said their relationship was not romantic. Knorr said she had not seen the letters, which were sent anonymously to The Republic, but said Cook and his wife had written her letters of support during a difficult period in her life.

Cook did not dispute that he had written the letters but refused to discuss them.

Knorr said she was planning to divorce her husband, a decision that her parents and husband vehemently opposed. She said they were using the letters as a tactic to keep her in her marriage.

"They told me, 'We disown you, you're no longer part of our family — have a nice life,'" she told The Arizona Republic.

She added, "I just think it's unfortunate that people are trying to make false accusations to destroy peoples' lives because they're not doing what they want them to do."

She described Cook as a big brother and someone she could lean on outside of her immediate family.

Copies of the cards and letters with Cook's cursive writing arrived at The Republic with a return address listed as the state Capitol. In the documents, Cook detailed how he was spending his days, his feelings towards Knorr, and words of encouragement as she was undergoing rehabilitation for a medical condition.

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The 7 stages of drunkenness . One drink and the conversation starts flowing. Another drink and your confidence grows. Drink number three, and you’re The morning after . You’re probably feeling like this: the night before is a either distant blur or every embarrassing thing you did is coming back to you.

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He referred to her as "honey" told her he loved her, and drew hearts and smiley faces on the letters.

"I deeply love you and on many occasions I find myself trying to protect me from being hurt by having these deep feelings for you," he wrote in one letter that was signed, "You have me — David."

In another letter, he seemed to refer to his wife, “The other morning she woke me up and asked me if I was going to leave her. I did not answer her — I know it is heavy but it is what it is. I am going to bed — I will write to you tomorrow.”

Reach the reporters at yvonne.wingett@arizonarepublic.com and Andrew.Oxford@gannett.com.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: David Cook sent threatening messages after being confronted for 'drunkenness,' lobbyist says

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