Feathered Bastard

Mark Brnovich Condemns Sterilization Comments by Russell Pearce (w/Update on Doug Ducey and Others Joining Chorus)

Please see update on Doug Ducey and others joining the chorus of condemnation below.

Republican candidate for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued a statement on Sunday condemning remarks made by the Arizona GOP's first vice chair Russell Pearce, in which Pearce proposed the coerced sterilization of female Medicaid recipients.

Calling the remarks "cruel" and "unrepresentative" of the Arizona Republican Party, Brnovich likened Pearce's comments to the "horrors of communism," noting that his mother fled communist Yugoslavia in the 1950s.

Brnovich's statement reads:

"Recent comments made by Russell Pearce regarding the forced sterilization of women are unrepresentative of the Republican Party I know. The notion that government would force sterilization upon anyone is counter to everything I believe about individual liberty and contrary to the founding principles of a free nation.

"My family knows something about government tyranny. In the 1950s, my mother fled the horrors of communism in Yugoslavia, and her first-hand experiences have helped shape my core beliefs in a government that is effective, efficient and limited.

"Comments that demean the plight of the poor, including women in the dual role of mother and economic provider, are not conservative; they're cruel. And I reject them. It is one of the great failings of the Obama administration and, truthfully, our society as a whole, that so many in our nation have grown dependent upon government subsidy and support. But the path to self-sufficiency lies in economic opportunity and personal responsibility, not shame."

Brnovich's release follows on the heels of GOP strategist Sean Noble's statements on Twitter that Pearce should "resign or be removed" from the post of first vice chair.

Pearce has held the position since being elected to it by the state Republican committee in 2012.

See also: -Russell Pearce Disses Government 
Programs for the Poor on His Radio Show, While Helping to Run One -Sean Noble, GOP Strategist, Calls on Russell Pearce to Resign for His Remarks on the Coerced Sterilization of Women

However, Brnovich, who recently beat incumbent AG Tom Horne in their party's August 26 primary, stopped short of calling for Pearce to resign.

As I first reported my weekly column, Pearce's comments came during his regular Saturday talk radio broadcast on KKNT 960 AM, as he went on a jeremiad about the evils of public assistance in all of its forms.

Listen here as Pearce apparently plagiarizes offensive comments concerning the coerced sterilization of women

But his remarks on Medicaid were the most extreme.

"You put me in charge of Medicaid," Pearce said during his September 6 broadcast, "the first thing I'd do is get [female recipients] Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."

Those remarks later were picked up by The Raw Story, which posted a YouTube video featuring a segment from Pearce's September 6 show.

Yesterday, Arizona Republican Party Chair Robert Graham told me that he had spoken to Pearce, and Pearce explained that he had been reading from a letter he'd seen on the Internet, but had neglected to credit the sentiments as not being his own.

Still, Pearce's excuse of having committed plagiarism hardly explains why he adopted the remarks, if he did not believe them.

Pearce has attempted similar excuses in the past when caught forwarding racist e-mails to his supporters.

Perhaps the most notorious example of this took place in 2006, when Pearce forwarded a racist, anti-Semitic e-mail from the neo-Nazi National Alliance website to others. Pearce later claimed that he hadn't read the message all the way through.

Despite being recalled by the voters of his district in 2011 during the height of his power as state Senate President, and rejected by Republican primary voters in 2012 during a bid to regain his seat, Pearce has remained a force in the state GOP.

And yet Pearce, one of the authors of Arizona's ethnic-cleansing legislation Senate Bill 1070, has long been a source of embarrassment for many mainstream Republicans in Arizona.

Controversies concerning Pearce over the years have included his involvement in the Fiesta Bowl scandal, his being fired as director of the Motor Vehicles Division for allegedly altering information associated with a Tucson woman's driving record, his friendship with neo-Nazi baby-killer J.T. Ready, his use of the term "wetback," his pooh-pooh-ing of child molestation allegations against former minuteman Chris Simcox, and his remarks blaming the victims of a 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado for not taking up arms against their attacker.

Interestingly, a federal judge recently rejected Pearce's attempt to withhold from the ACLU some e-mails he sent while in the state Legislature and redact others. The ACLU wants the documents as evidence in its ongoing fight to do away with what's left of SB 1070.

Which makes you wonder what's so bad in those e-mails that Pearce would not want them released.

Who knows? Perhaps Arizona Republicans will once again be forced to distance themselves from Pearce before this general election is over.

Update 7:22 PM:

Joining the chorus of condemnation are GOP candidate for governor Doug Ducey and Republican Congressional candidates Martha McSally and Andy Tobin.

As with Sean Noble, McSally has called on Pearce to step down. The others have not.

Got a tip for The Bastard? Send it to: Stephen Lemons.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX. Follow Stephen Lemons on Twitter at @StephenLemons.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons