Embattled lawmaker David Stringer resigns from Arizona House

Mar 27, 2019, 5:07 PM | Updated: 6:18 pm

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)...

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX – Amid an ethics investigation, embattled lawmaker David Stringer resigned Wednesday afternoon from the Arizona House of Representatives.

House Speaker Rusty Bowers announced he’d accepted the Prescott Republican’s resignation, effective at 4 p.m.

Earlier in the day, Stringer asked the court to intervene as he faced a deadline to turn over documents demanded by the House Ethics Committee.

But he withdrew the request moments before the hearing was supposed to begin in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Instead, he submitted his resignation to Bowers.

Gov. Doug Ducey said it was long overdue.

“I called for Rep. Stringer’s resignation in June. Today he resigned, and he did the right thing,” Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos shortly after the news broke.

Stringer was the subject of ethics complaints following newspaper reports that he was charged with sex crimes in a 1983 case that was later expunged. He was also being investigated over controversial comments on race and immigration.

Bowers said in a press release that Stringer’s resignation ends the ethics probe.

“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,” Bowers, who declined an interview request from KTAR News, said in the release.

House Democratic Co-Whip Reginald Bolding, one of two legislators who filed ethics complaints against Stringer in January, said the resignation was “good for Arizona.”

“The evidence that he was trying to withhold from the Ethics Committee must be damning since he chose to quit rather than comply with a subpoena,” Bolding said in a statement.

“We hope that his replacement will serve with far more honor and integrity.”

On March 20, the ethics panel voted 4-1 to deny Stringer’s request to submit requested documents in secret.

At the time, Ethics Committee Chairman TJ Shope declined to say what documents were demanded from Stringer, saying that information would be part of the committee’s report.

Stringer was given a Wednesday deadline to comply with a subpoena for the material and was to sit for an interview Friday.

Bowers said Wednesday that public documents gathered over the course of the investigation will be released as soon as possible.

The ethics probe began in January after the Phoenix New Times published a copy of a case history the newspaper obtained from the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. A Maryland judicial official told the newspaper the case was expunged, and the records should not have been released.

Details of the charges against Stringer are unclear. The case summary published by New Times, which blacked out information about victims and witnesses, lists unspecified charges but does not detail the allegations. One entry says “charge is child pornography.”

Stringer’s lawyer has said the charges never resulted in a conviction.

Stringer was also being investigated over comments that were widely denounced as racist. Last summer, video circulated on social media of him saying “there aren’t enough white kids to go around” when discussing integration in schools. Despite a backlash, he was re-elected in November.

Earlier this month, the State Bar of Arizona last week ended an investigation into whether Stringer failed disclose the arrest when he applied for an Arizona law license in 2004. A bar investigator said Stringer’s application materials no longer existed, so it couldn’t be proven that he concealed anything.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Embattled lawmaker David Stringer resigns from Arizona House