Arizona lawmaker resigns amid probe of sex charges, racially charged comments

Arizona Rep. David Stringer resigned Wednesday amid an ethics investigation of 1983 sex charges and his comments on race and immigration.

The Prescott Republican lawmaker stepped down as he faced a 5 p.m. deadline to hand over documents demanded by the House Ethics Committee. Earlier in the day he made an emergency request for a judge to block the Legislature from expelling him, then withdrew it as a hearing was scheduled to begin.

"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," House Speaker Rusty Bowers said in a statement announcing Stringer's resignation.

Stringer is the subject of two ethics complaints following newspaper reports that he was charged with sex crimes more than three decades ago. The charges were later expunged. He's also being investigated over two viral videos of his comments that were widely denounced as racist.

His resignation ends the Republican majority in the House until Stringer is replaced and will likely hamstring some of the GOP's top priorities just as the legislative session heats up. By law, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors must choose a Republican to replace him.

Earlier this year, 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 lists unspecified charges but does not detail the allegations. One entry says "charge is child pornography."

Stringer came under fire twice last year for comments that were widely denounced as racist, prompting Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to call for his resignation. The lawmaker has been removed from committee assignments while he awaits the outcome of the ethics probe. He has lost his role overseeing criminal justice reform efforts in the Legislature.

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.

A few weeks after the election, the New Times reported that Stringer told Arizona State University students that African Americans "don't blend in." He also said Somali immigrants don't look like "every other kid" as previous European immigrants do.

He apologized for his language in a speech on the House floor in January.