PHOENIX — On Wednesday, Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers announced that the full resources of the state will be available to thoroughly investigate ethics complaints against Rep. David Stringer.
Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-East Mesa, who was instrumental in the removal of former Rep. Don Shooter, a fellow Republican, last year in the wake of complaints by women about alleged boorish and misogynistic behavior, filed the first complaint against Stringer, also a Republican.
Her complaint was followed by one from Rep. Reginald Bolding, D-Phoenix, who stated he was basing his complaint on “first hand knowledge he had of recent news reports about Stringer’s criminal activity.”
Bolding’s complaint is broader in that he also wants the ethics committee to investigate statements Stringer made regarding immigration and assimilation. Both complaints against Stringer are largely based on alleged crimes he was charged with but never convicted of, more than 35 years ago.
As previously reported by the Arizona Daily Independent, Stringer, R-Prescott, was “accused of possession of pornography and patronizing prostitutes” who had been arrested earlier and were offering up names in exchange for leniency from prosecutors. Stringer, a landlord at the time who was also employed by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, was named by the prostitutes.
Because Stringer didn’t have pornography of any kind in his home, those charges were dropped, Stringer told the ADI in an interview. Stringer ultimately accepted a deal of Probation Before Judgment for two misdemeanors rather than take a chance that he would be convicted in court.
Stringer’s plea allowed him to have a record devoid of convictions. After completing the terms of his probation, his record was expunged and Stringer was allowed to continue his professional life without a criminal record or conviction, Stringer told the ADI.
“The House Ethics Committee has received two ethics complaints against Representative David Stringer, and the committee has begun the process of investigating those complaints,” said Bowers in a press release. “Chairman Shope and the other members of the Ethics Committee have my full support, and the chair will receive the resources needed for a timely and thorough investigation. I look forward to their findings and recommendations.”
Bowers, R-Mesa, took the punitive step of suspending Stringer from his remaining committee assignment – the House Government Committee – until the investigation has been completed and the Ethics Committee has made their recommendations to the House.
Sources close to Stringer believe he is looking forward to the opportunity to defend himself against the highly publicized and salacious claims.
One interesting side note to the Stringer story is that when Townsend filed the complaint against Stringer, she claimed she was doing so because she felt that former Rep. Don Shooter had been denied his due process when he was denied a proper hearing by the ethics hearing. This week, Shooter filed a lawsuit against the state for, among other things, denial of due process. It will be interesting to see how helpful Townsend’s statement will be in Shooter’s case.