State Rep. David Stringer resigns, former Sen. Steve Pierce expected to replace him


Arizona State Rep. David Stringer (R-Prescott) with fellow criminal justice reform advocate Rep. Kirsten Engel (D-Tucson).

PHOENIX — Arizona State Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, who has been under fire by members of both parties because of allegations about incidents in his past,  submitted his resignation Wednesday.

Former State Sen. Steve Pierce, a Republican who served from 2009 to 2017 and rose to become the Senate president, is expected to take his place.

Stringer opted to resign rather than turn over a confidential document to the House Ethics Committee. He had offered to share it with the committee if they would maintain its confidentiality, but committee members insisted that the document, sealed by the Arizona Supreme Court, be made public.

Sex-related criminal charges had been filed against Stringer some 35 years ago, but he was never tried or convicted of those crimes.

Stringer was accepted to the District of Columbia Bar a year later, and over the following several decades was also accepted into additional bar associations, including Arizona’s.

The complaints against him began surfacing after he made controversial statements about immigration and assimilation that were ultimately deemed to be racist in nature. That was when several representatives began moving for his removal.

Stringer, a staunch criminal justice reform advocate, submitted his resignation on the same day the House Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 1310.

The ACLU has called the bill a delay tactic meant to prevent real reform and disrupt the bipartisan call for genuine criminal justice reform.

Related article: The Only Criminal Justice Bill Moving Through The Legislature Is Not Reform At All

While Stringer’s inartful comments received much media attention, some people believe Stringer was targeted for his efforts to pass legitimate criminal justice reforms. With so many legislators taking contributions from the private prison industry, which would take a hit from meaningful reforms, that theory could have some merit.

“Today I accepted the resignation of David Stringer,” said House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa. “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.”

With Stringer gone, and any real criminal justice reform legislation a thing of the past, the House heads into the budget process with the slimmest of majorities, 30 to 29. Senate President Karen Fann, R-Prescott, favors the appointment of former Steve Pierce to replace Stringer.

Pierce was known as an ally of Gov. Doug Ducey.  Pierce has indicated that he would likely serve out Stringer’s unexpired term and not seek re-election in 2020.