PHOENIX — State Rep. Kelly Townsend filed an ethics complaint against fellow Republican Rep. David Stringer.
Townsend’s stated her reasons for filing the complaint was in reference to stories in the Phoenix New Times and this publication that detailed an arrest of Stringer some 35 years ago.
In spite of Stringer, R-Prescott, never having been convicted of any crimes, and the records being largely expunged, Townsend’s request for an ethics investigation is purportedly to analyze the differences in the stories and allow Stringer a chance to explain himself.
In the press release she issued on Monday, Townsend, R-Mesa, also stated that she is “deeply concerned about the nature of the complaints.” and she called on Stringer to resign ahead of any investigation “out of respect for all Arizonans.”
That varies considerably with Townsend’s stated motivation a day earlier on Facebook, when she made it clear that it was time for Stringer to go and that his continued presence was a threat to the Republican majority.
Sensing an opportunity, House Democrats moved to expel Stringer immediately, which was blocked by House Republicans.
Stringer was already under fire for comments he made that were considered by many to be insensitive and considered by others to be racist. The new sensationalized headlines regarding Stringer’s past have emboldened his opponents.
Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that Stringer’s pet issue of criminal justice reform will be nearly impossible to pass the year. Arguments in favor of the “Uncheck the Box” campaign and other reforms will be difficult to make for lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle after calling for Stringer’s head based largely on a accusation against a lawmaker that was addressed by the justice system and did nor result in a conviction more than 30 years before he was elected to office.
In her first official act, newly elected AZGOP Chair Kelli Ward issued a statement in support of Townsend’s ethics complaint: “I have spoken with several members of the Arizona House of Representatives regarding the allegations against Rep. Stringer, and I support their call for a thorough ethics investigation. I am confident they will take swift and appropriate action to resolve the matter and return to working for the people of Arizona.”