Embattled Rep. David Stringer has resigned his legislative office, the House of Representatives announced late Wednesday afternoon.
Stringer was facing an Ethics Committee investigation into two complaints filed against him this year. One related to his arrest in 1983 on sex crime charges in Baltimore, the other also included several racist remarks Stringer had made in public. His resignation came shortly before a deadline the committee’s chairman, Rep. T.J. Shope, set for turning over a key document in the probe.
House Speaker Rusty Bowers said in a written statement that he was glad Stringer, a Republican from Prescott, resigned.
“I’m grateful that the House will not be forced to take action against one of our members, and we can begin to put this matter behind us,” he said.
Stringer’s resignation came minutes after he withdrew a complaint filed with the courts seeking to block the legislative subpoena for his records and to bar the Arizona House of Representatives from expelling him for refusing to comply with the subpoena. His one-sentence resignation letter to Bowers said he was stepping down, effective 4 p.m., which was the scheduled time of a court hearing he’d sought. The hearing was canceled after Stringer withdrew his request.
Immediately afterward, ABC15 reported that Chenal said Stringer would comply with the subpoena. Instead, he submitted his letter of resignation.
Stringer could not be reached for comment.
Shope, R-Coolidge, had set a Wednesday deadline for Stringer to turn over documents the committee sought in its probe of the Maryland case. Stringer has refused to comply, arguing that a 1984 letter from the District of Columbia Bar dismissing an investigation into the case was sealed by a judge and is subject to confidentiality rules.
Stringer’s attorney, Carmen Chenal, had said Stringer would only turn over the letter if the Ethics Committee would keep it private and not release it to the public. Last week, the committee rejected his request that the document be kept confidential.
If Stringer refused to comply with the subpoena for documents, or with a separate subpoena demanding that he submit to an interview with the Ethics Committee’s attorneys, the committee could have recommended that he be expelled from the House of Representatives. Expulsion would have required a two-thirds vote of the House’s 60 members.
The subpoenas were part of the Ethics Committee’s probes into complaints filed against Stringer in January by Reps. Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix, and Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa. Both cited the Maryland sex crimes charges, one of which involved child pornography, which the Phoenix New Times revealed in January. Bolding’s complaint also cites several racist comments by Stringer that became public last year.
Stringer’s resignation ends the Ethics Committee probe. Bowers said the committee will not release a formal report on its investigation, though it will release any public documents it gathered during the probe. Shope said Stringer didn’t provide any documents to the committee, to his knowledge.
Stringer, a second-term representative, had been dogged by controversy since last summer, when he told a Yavapai County Republican group that immigration is an “existential threat” to the United States, and that there “aren’t enough white kids to go around” in Arizona’s public schools.
Several weeks after he was overwhelmingly re-elected, the New Times reported that he’d told some Arizona State University students that blacks and other non-white people “don’t blend in” in America, unlike the descendants of European immigrants. When asked whether that was important, he said he didn’t know. Those statements prompted Bowers to strip Stringer of most of his committee assignments and disband a criminal justice reform committee he’d been slated to chair. Several high-profile Republicans called for his resignation.
Nonetheless, Stringer appeared to be weathering the storm until the New Times revealed that he’d faced sex crime changes while living in Baltimore.