Arizona AG Asks Reporter If They Have STD Rather Than Answer If He Has Gotten COVID Vaccine

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked a reporter if they had an STD rather than answer if he has received the COVID vaccine at a news conference with leaders of Phoenix police and firefighter unions.

A reporter asked Brnovich, a Republican who is running for U.S. Senate, the question when his press secretary called the question "inappropriate." Brnovich then waved her off and asked the reporter, "Have you had an STD?"

"The question should be, once you allow or cede this authority to the federal government, where does it stop?" Brnovich added.

The news conference was held to talk about the opposition from Brnovich and Phoenix police and firefighter unions to President Joe Biden's federal vaccine mandate. The unions recently joined a lawsuit filed by Brnovich to nullify the vaccine mandate after Phoenix's city manager required all employees to be vaccinated by Jan. 18 in order to obey the mandate, The Associated Press reported.

Phoenix officials cited the city's federal contracts which would require it to adhere to Biden's policy. There is also a rule from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) currently paused by a federal appeals court that would mandate employers with over 100 workers to regularly test unvaccinated workers.

Brnovich calls the mandate an abuse of Biden's power.

Bryan Willingham, a Phoenix firefighter and executive vice president of the United Phoenix Firefighters Association, said the vaccine mandate will cause people to leave their jobs, overworking the firefighters left.

"The community cannot lose these individuals. They can't," Willingham said. "We cannot survive the staffing crisis if we lose these members."

Willingham said that he is standing up for the firefighters he represents, not arguing about the efficacy of the vaccine.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Mark Brnovich, Vaccine Mandate, Lawsuit
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich speaks to reporters during a news conference at his office in Phoenix on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Brnovich announced that unions representing Phoenix police and firefighters have joined his lawsuit seeking to invalidate federal vaccine rules affecting millions of workers. Jonathan J. Cooper/AP Photo

Also Monday, two Republican members of the Arizona Corporation Commission proposed that regulated utilities be fined up to $5,000 per violation if they require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Commissioners Justin Olson, who is also seeking the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, and Jim O'Connor want the five-member commission to consider the new rule at their next open meeting in mid-December. They are worried that utilities such as Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power will be compelled by Biden administration policies mandating that government contractors require their employees to take the vaccine.

"Ultimately, employees of a (regulated utility) should not have to decide between violating their convictions and keeping their job," Olson and O'Connor wrote in a letter posted on the commission's docket.

Arizona utilities are contracted to provide power to multiple military bases and federal installations.

Sherine Zaya, a spokeswoman for Arizona Public Service, said in an email that the state's largest electric utility is "monitoring the developments relating to vaccine requirements." She said COVID-19 safety protocols remain in place and that the company does not currently have a vaccine mandate.

O'Connor secretly lobbied utilities not to require the vaccine earlier this year, according to the Arizona Republic. He told the newspaper in May that thousands of people who received the vaccine had died and tens of thousands were left as "potted plants" and had lost their ability to function. There's no evidence to back his statements about COVID-19 vaccines.

Arizona on Monday reported 3,249 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 22,000 deaths and more than 1.2 million COVID-19 infections have been reported in the sate.

Lawsuit, Vaccine Mandate, Mark Brnovich
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich launched a lawsuit against President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate, saying it is an abuse of Biden's power. Phoenix police and firefighters union have since joined the lawsuit. In this photo, Brnovich speaks at a news conference in Phoenix, on Jan. 7, 2020. Bob Christie/AP Photo, File