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Mon, May 20

Editorial: Rep. Stringer’s non-denial denials not helping us

State Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, responded Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, to news out of Phoenix that in 1983 he faced charges including child pornography and sex crimes, saying he has "no criminal record." (Capitol Media Services/Howard Fischer, File)

State Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, responded Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, to news out of Phoenix that in 1983 he faced charges including child pornography and sex crimes, saying he has "no criminal record." (Capitol Media Services/Howard Fischer, File)

The past year has not been the best for Rep. David Stringer of Prescott.

The highlights include:

• He came under scrutiny in mid-2018 for a speech to the Republican Men’s Forum of Prescott warning that immigration “represents an existential threat to the United States” and needs to be curtailed before the country is irrevocably altered. One statement was that there are “not enough white kids to go around.”

• This past fall, at Arizona State University, there were racial comments about integration and how only people from European countries fully assimilate into this nation.

These are the incidents that made the biggest headlines. A half-dozen more surfaced from time to time, people complaining about how Stringer treated them in private meetings, as well as disparaging comments he made in legislative committee hearings on various topics, including education.

All told, Stringer’s supporters said, even on the Courier’s opinions page in letters to the editor, that he was only telling the truth about our society.

However, in attempts to get beyond the fray, Stringer told a group of African-Americans that he is working on issues of interest to their community and his comments about immigration and assimilation were misconstrued or misunderstood.

This past Thursday, he apologized to Arizona House members, legislative staffers and the public. At the same time, he did not apologize for anything he said, essentially calling it all a “Democrat hit piece” and comments taken out of context.

Forget the fact that videos of his speech to the Republican Men’s Forum — the 51-second excerpt as well as the full 17-minute video — have been on the Courier’s website, dCourier.com, the entire time.

“It distorted my remarks and I think misled and, unfortunately, offended a lot of people,” Stringer said in June. “So if there are people in this room who were offended, I am going to apologize for making statements that allowed someone else to excerpt them, misrepresent them to the community.”

That is a backhanded apology and a non-denial denial.

Readers — including elected officials — judged for themselves. Scores of calls for his resignation came in, ranging from the Prescott City Council and the superintendent of Prescott Unified School District to the governor and leaders of the state Democratic and Republican parties.

They all said his comments were racist and inappropriate. House and Senate leaders have said the distraction he has fueled reflects badly on the Legislature and what lawmakers are working to accomplish. Likewise the City Council stated he has cast Prescott in a bad light, which later included a chapter of the NAACP calling for a travel boycott against our mile-high city.

Still, in his House floor speech which is on dCourier.com in audio and text format, Stringer did not take back any of his comments or suggest that he is having second thoughts.

Finally, when a Phoenix-area paper on Friday exposed sex-related crimes and child porn charges he faced in Maryland in 1983, Stringer replied he has never been convicted and does not have a criminal record — sticking to his version of the facts and not directly acknowledging what was done or said.

Every time we have published articles about these incidents or events — from the June speech or the NAACP boycott, or the House apology and the 1983 accusations — the Courier has called Stringer offering him space to rebut or explain his comments or his side of the story. He has not done so, not once.

Stringer is working in a vacuum — out of touch with his constituents, a world according to himself, in a job as our “representative” in Phoenix — where he has been stripped of most of his committee assignments and leadership roles.

Even if he survives the hinted censure efforts awaiting him in the Legislature, as the Senate President, also from Prescott, has said: he cannot be an effective representative for our district anymore.

Comments of exclusion and vitriol are not positive, never will be. We believe Stringer is now like a ghost walking among his colleagues in the House, and we urge him to resign.

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