Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and state House Democrats called for embattled State Representative David Stringer to resign on Friday following a Phoenix New Times article revealing he was charged with multiple sex crimes, including child porn, in 1983.
Stringer, a Prescott Republican, was already facing calls to step down following the emergence of recordings in which he's heard making racist statements. He has remained defiant amid the calls for his ouster and reiterated on Friday that he has no plans to resign.
House Democratic Co-Whip Reginald Bolding said lawmakers would introduce legislation to expel Stringer “as early as next week” if the Republican lawmaker does not voluntarily resign.
"We want to get back to regular order down here," Bolding said in a telephone interview. "This is just distracting members from the issues that matter to the state of Arizona."
It would be up to House Speaker Rusty Bowers to bring an expulsion up to a vote. In a statement issued Friday, Bowers expressed concern over Stringer’s history, but stopped short of calling for his resignation.
“I was surprised and extremely disturbed to read the report today on Representative Stringer,” said Bowers. “Rep. Stringer may have fulfilled the legal consequences of his actions, but I believe that charges of this nature cast a shadow over the entire Legislature and his ability to be an effective legislator. There are myriad calls for Rep. Stringer’s resignation and other actions, and I hope that Rep. Stringer will reflect on the impacts of these reports as he considers whether to continue in his office.”
New Times on Friday published an article showing that Stringer was indicted in five sex offenses, including two charges of child porn, when he lived in Baltimore in 1983, according to a case history obtained from the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.
Stringer has not responded to a request for comment from New Times. The state representative told a 12News reporter in a text message that he has no plans to resign.
"Resigning over a 35 year old allegation for which I was not convicted and which was expunged would set an incredibly bad precedent," Stringer told 12News journalist Michael Doudna. "I think some people are reacting to an allegation and losing sight of the fact that I have never been convicted of a crime and have no criminal record."
Prior to the publication of New Times' story, Stringer confirmed that he was arrested and charged with sex offenses in an interview with the Arizona Daily Independent, a conservative news website. In the article, Stringer admits to accepting "probation before judgement" on two unspecified misdemeanors stemming from his 1983 criminal case.
The calls for Stringer's resignation on Friday follow calls made in 2018 after audio and video emerged showing Stringer making racist comments regarding immigration and assimilation, including that African-Americans "don't blend in" and that "there aren't enough white kids to go around" in Arizona public schools.
Before Friday, Ducey had already called for Stringer's resignation twice.
"The governor has been clear on this," said Ducey spokesperson Elizabeth Berry.
Arizona Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Lines also called for Stringer's resignation twice after his racist comments emerged. Lines did not respond to a request for comment regarding the state representative's 1983 indictments.
State Representative Kelly Townsend, a Republican from Mesa, also called on Stringer to resign on Friday. She said in a statement that she is "deeply concerned about the nature of the complaints" reported by New Times.
"I believe at this point, it is prudent and proper for Rep. Stringer to step down from his position in the House," Townsend said. "The reputation of our institution must remain intact, and the cumulative and escalating nature of the recent unfortunate events places that in jeopardy."
Townsend added that she plans to file an ethics complaint against Stringer on Monday.
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