MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

An Arizona Lawmaker Thought Speeding Was OK Because of His Legislative Immunity

Video: State Rep. Paul Mosley tells a deputy that he's above the law.

An Arizona politician has been caught on camera bragging that he's exempt from the law. The body-cam video, first shared by Parker Live Online, shows a sheriff's deputy speaking with state Rep. Paul Mosley (R–Lake Havasu City) after pulling him over for speeding.

"I informed Mosley that 97 mph in a 55 mph zone is considered criminal speed," the deputy wrote in his written report. "Mosley stated he was just in a hurry to get home to surprise his family in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Mosley also told me that I should just let him go and that I shouldn't waste anymore of my time dealing with him due to his immunity as a government official."

In the video, the deputy asks Mosley to watch his speed regardless of the reason. Mosley responds, "Well, I was doing 120 earlier." He then continued to brag about his vehicle's ability to speed and why he preferred the mode of transportation seen in the video over his Prius. The deputy asked Mosley if he sped just because he knew he could get away with it. Mosley answered that he broke the law because he was trying to get home.

After a brief argument about speeding, the deputy walks away without appearing to give Mosley a speeding ticket. A search of traffic violations by the Associated Press does not show Mosley receiving a ticket that day.

The legislative immunity that Mosley touted is found in Article 4, Part 2, Section 6 of the Arizona Constitution. It states, "Members of the legislature shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, and they shall not be subject to any civil process during the session of the legislature, nor for fifteen days next before the commencement of each session."

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard criticized Mosley's use of immunity, saying, "Nothing short of an emergency justifies that kind of speeding, and assertions of immunity in that situation seem outside the intent of the constitutional provision regarding legislative immunity."

The Arizona Fraternal Order of Police also responded by rescinding its endorsement of Mosley: "Potentially lethal speeding isn't a joke. We will not stand with those who think it's acceptable or funny to risk the lives of others while behind the wheel of a lethal weapon."

Mosley's colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, have also responded negatively to the video. Rep. Mark Finchem (R–Oro Valley) filed an ethics complaint, adding that the "misbehavior" needed "to be called out as unbecoming."

On Thursday, Mosley apologized for his conduct in a Facebook post:

Photo Credit: Screenshot via YouTube/ KLPZ

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Citizen X||

    Assholery expands to fill every available loophole. It is known.

  • H. Farnham||

    Hey look on the bright side, looks like we found an honest politician... until his apology anyway.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Not sure how I feel about that apology. He says "no excuse" while claiming the 120 was a "joke."

  • Bubba Jones||

    And for the record, if I had immunity, I would speed like a motherfucker.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I dont have immunity and I speed.

    Most speed limits are traps for revenue and even make sense.

    Under Rule of Law, I am responsible for my actions and would be liable for getting caught.

    At the same time, I fight local government lowering speed limits or changing road features to cater to bad drivers who cannot yield to oncoming traffic to make a left turn on green.

  • Finrod||

    So would I. If I was representing a western state in Congress I'd have fun with a fast car the whole way across the country and back. It's one of the few actual constitutional perks of being a Congressman.

  • Eddy||

    Even if that sort of speeding isn't a "breach of the peace" (is there any authority on this?), it says nothing about being exempt from tickets.

    Still, it's a broader immunity than the U. S. Constitution gives for Congresspeople - see Art. I, Sec. 6

    "The Senators and Representatives...shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same..."

    Whereas the AZ constitution makes no limitation based on whether the legislator is attending the legislature or coming to it or going from it. There's also an exemption from civil process which Congresscreatures don't have.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Yes. Some degree of legislative immunity is warranted, to keep rogue law enforcement from attempting to effect the outcome of votes by arresting legislators.

    But the actual text of the Arizona clause still permits arrest in case of felonies, and in most states, I'm pretty sure you can be charged with felony endangerment for speeding THAT fast.

  • Longtobefree||

    Does AZ have felony stupid yet?

  • Devastator||

    What happened to the definition of "equal". Legislators don't deserve any more immunity than I do. This is clearly a ridiculous law.

  • SRoach||

    If you read up, you'll see why it is. It's to prevent one side, having the backing of the police, arresting the other side, before a key floor vote.

    This is, unfortunately, like free speech. You know it's working when it works for the abuses, too.
    The best response to this is for his constituents to remove his immunity to arrest at the ballot box.

  • Naaman Brown||

    I could ref George Orwell's "Animal Farm" (All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.)

  • Idle Hands||

    I propose a new constitutional amendment that if you hold a political office after your term is up you should be chemically castrated and spend the next 10 years of your life on a federally owned ranch in yellow stone where there is no electricity or cell service.

  • Jima||

    There are enough idiots in Yellowstone already, thanks. Send them to California so they can learn what legislature run amok looks like the soonest. Maybe downtown Compton or some other nice resort like location created by politicians.

  • Sevo||

    "...House Speaker J.D. Mesnard criticized Mosley's use of immunity, saying, "Nothing short of an emergency justifies that kind of speeding,..."]

    Last time I got tagged, the cop didn't bother to justify the offense as "that kind of speeding"; speeding was all it took.
    But then I'm not a 'special person'.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    You can get away with speeding under certain limited circumstances, like getting somebody to the hospital in a medical emergency. Perhaps the cop didn't notice the guy in the back seat dying of a heart attack.

  • Echo Chamber||

    "An Arizona Lawmaker Thought Speeding Was OK Because of His Legislative Immunity ...
    the deputy walks away without appearing to give Mosley a speeding ticket. A search of traffic violations by the Associated Press does not show Mosley receiving a ticket that day."

    So he thought right. Slow news day?

  • ipsquire||

    So AZ FOP - if you're serious that "we will not stand with those who think it's acceptable or funny to risk the lives of others while behind [] a lethal weapon." you're closing up shop?

    It appears that the weather was clear, the road was lightly traveled and the car quite capable of operating at the clocked speed - zero safety was improved by pulling the good Rep. over. This was malum prohibitum, despite the malum in se claims of government employees.

  • Eddy||

    It's government employees all the way down.

    And it doesn't sound like the government employee who gave a pass to his fellow-employee was worrying about malum prohibitum versus malum in se. I'd like to see a normie get away with such behavior.

  • HGW xx/7||

    Exactly. I think speed limits outside of urban areas should be done away with altogether, especially here in the western US. The problem here is that a privileged, self-important "public servant" is granted a massive reprieve - while he wasn't even on the goddam clock - whereas you or I would be cuffed, given a court date, and have our car towed.

    How are our representatives NOT supposed to feel godlike and drunk on power with immunity like this?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    When many traffic stops in the USA are excuses to ask to search a vehicle, you know what the true motive behind speed limits on open roads are for. I dont even think they are looking for revenue for those remote stretches of interstate. They want drugs and asset forfeiture seizures.

  • SRoach||

    There is the safety of any other drivers to consider. There are the property rights, (not to be molested*), of anyone with property along the path. There is the fact that, just because THIS guy can control his car at that speed, (maybe, provided he doesn't hit a rock or pothole,) the next might not be able to, and you can't exactly separate them short of the morgue.

    *Not that the government has a good track record on this, themselves.

    Speed laws are one of those things when, when crafted correctly, do make good sense, as they draw the line between different parties rights, rather than simply drawing a ring around a single party's rights.

    I don't know how flat that place is, but if there are even slight hills, or (mountainous or forested) curves, he could have come upon someone else without having time to stop. Simply put, it is reckless and it threatens the health and well being, (and property) of others,

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I'm afraid I must disagree.

    1) Pre-emptive strikes are generally a bad idea. If the fear is that this guy might not be able to control his car, you're going to need a much better reason than speed to justify government force.
    2) Engineers have demonstrated that raw speed is not a good metric for predicting unsafe driving. Speed discontinuities are better. That means that speed limits are, for the most part, an anti-scientific measure of the thing you're trying to measure.
    3) Other countries are able to have roads without speed limits without an increase in fatalities. Our OWN country has also experimented with this. When Montana got rid of their speed limits, traffic fatalities did not increase. Also, when you look at roadways that are less policed, there is not an association between enforcement and fatalities.
    4) Engineers have also shown that the safest speeds have more to do with weather conditions and the capabilities of the car, neither of which are (usually) taken into account w/ speed laws.
    5) Speeding is among the biggest excuses for the violation of Americans' 4th amendment protections.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I forgot...

    6) In practice, since congress tends to defer their responsibility to local law enforcement on the vast majority of roadways, speed limits effectively represent a violation of the separation of powers.

  • Davy C||

    The prohibition on arrests for minor things is there for good reason; you wouldn't want the police to be able to throw him in jail for going 56 in a 55 and preventing him from getting to a vote. Reckless driving is more serious, but since it's a misdemeanor in Arizona and not a felony, he's probably correct that he's immune.

    But the Arizona constitution also says:

    "Each house may punish its members for disorderly behavior, and may, with the concurrence of two-thirds of its members, expel any member."

    If he's going that speed because he's immune, he's a danger to himself and others, and they should expel him.

  • ||

    The prohibition on arrests for minor things is there for good reason; you wouldn't want the police to be able to throw him in jail for going 56 in a 55 and preventing him from getting to a vote.

    I wouldn't? I mean, if we were talking about the King of England using the king's men to jail the FF and prevent them from signing the DOI, you might have a point. However, we're talking about the king's men arresting a nobleman for speeding unrelated to his public service. Even if he were going to a vote and even if he were doing 56 in a 55, there's still a considerable question about his fitness for office not to mention his benefit/detriment to his constituency.

  • Ben of Houston||

    What Davy meant was they accuse and arrest you of a made-up charge, you miss a critical vote, and they let you out the next day due to lack of evidence.

    It's happened. There is a reason that 2 of Venezuela's presidential candidates were running from prison.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Mosley's colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, have also responded negatively to the video. Rep. Mark Finchem (R–Oro Valley) filed an ethics complaint, adding that the "misbehavior" needed "to be called out as unbecoming."

    The "misbehavior" of exposing the attitude of government workers to the laws the mundanes who pay their salaries are expected to comply with.

  • GoatOnABoat||

    We had a deputy governor in Massachusetts in a similar situation 3 or 4 years ago. Although, in his case, the state police helped cover it up...

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    After a brief argument about speeding, the deputy walks away without appearing to give Mosley a speeding ticket.

    So he is in fact immune. Ok, well played to the legislator.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Facebook page "isn't available" so I guess not only is he immune, he retracted the apology. That guy's a pimp.

  • Longtobefree||

    Facebook thought his attitude was Russian - - - - - - - -

  • Naaman Brown||

    On Thursday, Mosley apologized for his conduct in a Facebook post:
    This Facebook post is no longer available.
    It may have been removed or the privacy settings of the post may have changed.

    Which is why most people I know do screen captures of controversial postings and post the screen captures rather links.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Mosley's colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, have also responded negatively to the video.

    First rule of immunity club...

  • crufus||

    "Members of the legislature shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, and they shall not be subject to any civil process during the session of the legislature, nor for fifteen days next before the commencement of each session."

    I don't see anything that says they can't be given a ticket or have their car towed. Just a cop afraid of displeasing one of the masters.

  • Longtobefree||

    A car at speed can very well breach the peace.
    And all this reporting of normal arrogance is DEFINATELY a breach of the peace.
    I mean really guys, wasn't there some kind of big international thing to report?
    Or maybe some lying FBI agent topping this level of arrogance by an order of magnitude?
    Or another see my tits thing from whats-her-name?
    Or a movement in the stock market?

  • Azathoth!!||

    An Arizona Lawmaker Thought Speeding Was OK Because of His Legislative Immunity

    And....?


    "Members of the legislature shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, and they shall not be subject to any civil process during the session of the legislature, nor for fifteen days next before the commencement of each session."

    I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that this guy didn't write Arizona's constitution.

    But he clearly read it.

    No crime. And no foul.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    In some states 95 and over is a felony.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Arizona?

    No?

    Ah.

  • Ben of Houston||

    Abusing immunity to break minor laws that you do not want to follow is still abusing your power.

    While the police cannot actually ticket him. However, the House Ethics Committee does have the power to punish him, and should do so. The voters can and should vote him out as well.

  • Happy Chandler||

    He wasn't being arrested. There was nothing preventing the cop from citing him.

  • barfman2018||

    *barf*

  • barfman2018||

    *barf*

  • Ryan the Sea Lion||

    Great video. This guy has got a bright future in politics.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    So, I don't want to defend a congressman, and I won't defend his flaunting immunity.

    120 in back country Arizona is completely reasonable. There used to be no speed limits out in that part of the state for a long time anyway. And a 55 MPH speed limit out in western Arizona is almost certainly just a speed trap.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I legitimately can't tell how much bias I have here, but I am not very angry about this having watched the video.

  • ThomasD||

    "120 in back country Arizona is completely reasonable."

    Possibly reasonable? Sure.

    Completely reasonable? No way.

    I used to live in AZ. Yes many roads are wide open with good visibility and decent surface. But many cars are simply not up to that sort of speed. Standard (H) rated tires are only good to a max of 130 mph, and that's under ideal conditions.

    Never mind what the drivers capabilities are (or are not.) When something goes wrong at 90 mph most people are going to be hard pressed to keep it on the pavement. At 120 mph it is going to be a yard sale.

    And never forget that the formula for kinetic energy is mass times velocity squared.

    (That's not so much intended as an argument for speed limits as it is for prudence and personal responsibility.)

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Fortunately, there's an intrinsic governor on speed that tends to work much better than government enforcement. When scientists looked at this issue, they discovered that the vast majority of motorists confine their speeds to a number that they perceived as safe. There's no need for a law against speeding any more than there's a need for a law against suicide.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Man, the rep is not very rude in that video.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I think his car is an older Lexus LS. They move ok, but I wouldn't be bragging about it. It isn't exactly a performance car. And a lot of cars can hit 140 MPH these days. Mine can probably get very close 10 180 on a good track, and it's hardly an exotic.

  • Longtobefree||

    Speeding is OK because it is a lot of fun.
    Of course, for some people it can be expensive as well, but fortunately not for legislators.

  • Happy Chandler||

    The cops should wait until the session is over and arrest him for douchebaggery and reckless endangerment. One of the two charges would probably stick. I'm sure it would still be well within the statute of limitations.

  • Alan@.4||

    This two bit "politician" should have been arrested. The immunity he hid behind would or should apply to OFFICIAL BUSINESS, which going home does not encompass. By the way, what would have been the end result of John Q Public being the driver, anxious to get home?

  • Echospinner||

    The reason he got out of the ticket doesn't bother me. People get out of them all the time for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes no reason at all. I have and I am sure most of us have. This is just another arbitrary example.

  • Robert||

    When you got it, flaunt it.

  • gphx||

    I've rarely done any major speeding in my life. All of those times were on I-10 in Arizona, particularly heading south from the north of the state. Most of it is downhill, straight, and especially at night you might not even see another car for many miles. Not sure if it's still that way but it was 15 years ago.

    Amazing how many supposed libertarian commenters are pissed the cops didn't give someone a ticket because roads.

  • Vindex||

    Sadly, Rep Mosley is seemingly correct. Everything from Congress not applying Obamacare to themselves, to Zippy communicating with Hillary on her unsecure server's email with no punishment, to Holder receiving no punishment for being in contempt of Congress leads one to conclude that laws don't apply to elected officials/elites.

  • Pyrrho21C||

    I remember an article in one of the Chicago dailies by the sainted Senator Paul Simon (D, Illinois), an ardent supporter of the double-nickel speed limit back in the day, bragging about how his lead-footed driver got him from small town to small town in downstate Illinois in quicktime so he could forestall the national tragedy that would result if he lost his seat.

  • Alan@.4||

    More bullshit from Mosley and Facebook.

  • DerDuck||

    Not only did he "think" he has special rights to break the law, he actually does!

    It is like the US Congress which passes all sorts of sweet sounding laws and then exclude themselves!

    Gotta love having lots and lots of government.

    (Sarcasm) For those too dim to spot it.

  • Claude Slage||

    In rural sections of AZ, like the one depicted in the video, 97 in a 55 is a perfectly safe speed and the only reason the limit is enforced is revenue. There are sections of road that are exactly the same as this in Montana where there is no daytime speed limit. 55 is definitely an arbitrary limit. That being said, you always look like a dork claiming that the law does not apply to you.

  • Naaman Brown||

    Is I-10 as a whole posted 55?

    Tennessee here. Local speed limits on the highway vary based on assessment of road conditions and range from 45 to 75 mph,
    Here are usually reasons to post lower speed limits.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Freedom for me but not for thee; laws are for the little people.

    It's good to be the king.

  • ||

    Contact ; E N R I Q U E H A C K D E M O N 11 @ G M A I L d o t C O M or call/text him on + 1 ( 4 0 9 ) 9 9 9 - 3 4 7 7 . If you suspect that he is cheating, he might actually be..I hired a local hacker who helped me hack his phone without touching his device that diverted all his messages( face book, WhatsApp, text messages, and even phone calls) to my phone; ENRIQUE LEWIS is the man for the job with a very high level of professionalism and highly reliable.You can also message him on WhatsApp via +1 6 2 8 2 0 3-5 7 2 2 . I really enjoyed working with him and the few friends I told have been nothing but thankful to me for the referral.

  • Liberty Lover||

    I really hope the guy doesn't think legislative immunity extends to murder too.

  • Michael Cook||

    A couple of decades ago there was a black politician from San Francisco named ????Willie???? who became Speaker of the California Rep Assembly in Sacramento. This guy was smarter than a bus load of ordinary Democrats---save me, google!

    Willie L. Brown, who also served as mayor of San Francisco. Rush Limbaugh used to mention him a lot because even though a Democrat Willie was so smart you couldn't help but like him. Anyhow, Willie lived in S.F. and commuted for 15 years to his Speaker job in Sacramento.

    The drive famously took an hour or less. He kinda had a police escort, when they could keep up with him. He may have been ticketed once but who knows? I forget what he drove.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    I'd have more sympathy with the criticisms against him if speeding actually was a crime worth prosecuting. It's like if a legislator got caught with weed without proper government approval. I wouldn't bust his balls for that either, even if he is a dickhead using his title as a defense.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online