Republican Arizona State Representative David Stringer has resigned as chair of the House Sentencing and Recidivism Reform Committee following racist comments he made recently to Arizona State University students.
In audio obtained by Phoenix New Times, Stringer can be heard telling students that African-Americans "don't blend in," as well as other racist remarks.
Arizona House Speaker-elect Rusty Bowers asked Stringer to resign from the chairmanship on Friday afternoon, according to a press release. The Prescott Republican accepted.
“Representative Stringer’s comments are vile and won’t be tolerated,” said Bowers. “His remarks don’t reflect the sentiments of the Arizona Legislature, the constituents we represent, and the policies we enact. Given the diversity of my own family, I take personal offense to these disgusting comments."
"These comments render him incapable of performing his duties as chair," Bowers' statement continued.
On top of losing his chairmanship, Stringer has been removed from the Sentencing Committee all together, said Matthew Specht, a spokesperson for the Arizona House Republicans.
Before the announcement, Representative Reginald Bolding of District 27, a black Democrat, had called on Bowers to remove Stringer from his chairmanship on the Sentencing Committee as well as his vice chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee.
Stringer made the remarks in question outside a lecture hall on November 19 in a discussion with students about his views against multiculturalism and immigration.
After Stringer says in the audio recording that diversity is "relatively new" in the United States, ASU sophomore Stephen Chumra mentions early immigrants from Ireland and Italy.
"They were all European," Stringer says in response. "So after their second or third generation, everybody looks the same. Everybody talks the same. That's not the case with African-Americans and other racial groups because they don't melt in. They don't blend in. They always look different."
Stringer can also be heard on audio calling non-native English students a "burden" and describing Somali-American children — in comparison to Polish-American children — as not looking like "every other kid."
Stringer has a history of making racist comments. In June, after Stringer said that there "aren't enough white kids to go around" in Arizona public schools, Governor Doug Ducey and Arizona GOP Chair Jonathan Lines called on the state representative to resign from office.
Lines notably did not make the same call on Friday. In a statement, he applauded Bowers' decision to remove Stringer from the sentencing chair, but stopped short of calling for Stringer to leave the Legislature.
"What we see from David Stringer is an unfortunate pattern of him putting his foot in his mouth with racist commentary which can only be attributed to a perspective that is out of touch with reality," Lines said.
A statement for Governor Ducey said, "As the governor has previously stated, this type of rhetoric should disqualify someone from serving in the legislature. We support Speaker-Elect Bowers’ removal of his chairmanship."
Stringer was re-elected earlier this month.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.