Disgraced ex-lawmaker David Stringer running for Yavapai County Attorney

By: - January 10, 2020 8:59 pm

Rep. David Stringer. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

Disgraced former lawmaker David Stringer, who resigned last year after 1983 criminal charges he paid an intellectually disabled boy for sex in Baltimore in 1983 came to light, is mounting a campaign to oust longtime Republican Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk.

Stringer, a Republican, made the announcement Friday evening in a Facebook post in which he criticized Polk, who was first elected county attorney in 2000, of prosecutorial misconduct that has cost taxpayers millions of dollars in pursuit of a tough-on-crime agenda that has resulted in “non-violent offenders… crowding our jail and driving up costs to the taxpayers.”

Polk did not immediately return a message left on her cell phone.

Stringer resigned from the Arizona House of Representatives in March 2019 in the face of two ethics complaints. 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. 

He resigned shortly before a deadline to turn over key documents in the probe. 

Stringer faced child sex charges

After his resignation, the House Ethics Committee released a 1983 police report from Baltimore that it unearthed during its investigation of Stringer. The report detailed allegations that Stringer had repeated sexual contact with two boys younger than 15 years old, including one who was intellectually disabled. 

According to the reports, one of the boys told Baltimore police in 1983 that he had at least 11 sexual encounters with Stringer, including oral sex and sodomy. The intellectually disabled boy told Baltimore detectives that the encounters began in 1982, when Stringer approached him and another boy at a park in Baltimore and asked if they would come to his home for sex. The boys agreed, and the boys and Stringer performed oral sex on each other, the boy told police. 

Stringer, 36 years old at the time, was arrested and charged with several sex offenses and charges of perverted practices. Stringer was able to enter a plea that allowed him to enter a treatment program for sexual disorders at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Under fire for racist comments, writings

Stringer had been under pressure to resign since mid-2018 after racist comments he’d made became public. Additional comments emerged after the Prescott Republican won re-election in November of that year. 

Arizona Mirror documented opinion pieces that Stringer had written for an online news outlet in Prescott he co-owns. The columns trafficked in white nationalist rhetoric and talking points

“The changing demographics of our country — the immigration that was supposed to enrich us — has likely played a role in hollowing out and ghettoizing our cities, dumbing down our schools and public institutions, increasing welfare dependency and filling our prisons with angry, alienated and hopeless people,” he wrote in one op-ed.

House ethics investigators also discovered that Stringer frequently made racist and denigrating comments about minorities and poor people, disliked Mormons and didn’t believe child sex-trafficking either existed or damaged the victims.

Stringer: charges are ‘fake news’

In his Facebook post announcing his candidacy, Stringer addressed the 1983 charges, calling them “false” and media coverage of them “fake news and tabloid journalism.” He claimed he was targeted by “the liberal media and even some of my fellow legislators” because of his conservative views.

“They used the circumstances of my old false arrest to put me in an untenable position where I would be forced to violate a court order or refuse to comply with a subpoena. Both of those options would violate my oath as an attorney so I resigned rather than place my law license at risk,” he wrote. 

Stringer is referring to a 1984 letter from the Washington, D.C., Bar that he and his attorney said cleared him of wrongdoing after his arrest. Stringer said he would only provide the letter to the Ethics Committee if there was a guarantee it would remain confidential, and claimed that D.C. Bar confidentiality rules and a protective order by the Arizona Supreme Court’s presiding disciplinary judge prevented him from releasing it otherwise.

However, the D.C. Bar told the Mirror that he could have requested a waiver to lift the confidentiality rules. Likewise, the protective order by the Arizona court only applied to the Arizona State Bar, not to Stringer.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Jim Small
Jim Small

Jim Small is a native Arizonan and has covered state government, policy and politics since 2004, with a focus on investigative and in-depth policy reporting, first as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times, then as editor of the paper and its prestigious sister publications, the Yellow Sheet Report and Arizona Legislative Report. Under his guidance, the Capitol Times won numerous state, regional and national awards for its accountability journalism and probing investigations into state government operations.