PHOENIX (AP) - An Arizona lawmaker under scrutiny for sex charges in the 1980s and his comments on race is losing his only committee assignment, at least for now, state House Speaker Rusty Bowers said Wednesday.
Rep. David Stringer will be removed from the House Government Committee until the conclusion of an ethics investigation, Bowers said, adding that the Ethics Committee will get the resources it needs for a timely and thorough investigation. Stringer and Bowers are both Republicans.
"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 Speaker Bowers. "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."
Stringer is also facing potential sanctions for his Arizona law license. Rick DeBruhl, a spokesman for the state bar, confirmed Wednesday that an investigation was opened but said he was prohibited by court rules from disclosing when it began or what investigators are looking into.
The Phoenix New Times reported last week that Stringer was charged with sex crimes in a 1983 case in Baltimore that was later expunged. It's not clear if Stringer disclosed the Baltimore proceedings when he sought a law license in Arizona, where he was admitted to the bar in 2004.
DeBruhl says most investigations are finished within 30 days, though some take much longer.
Stringer already had an unusually light load of responsibility at the Capitol even before he lost his only committee post. It's unusual for lawmakers who aren't in leadership to sit on just one panel. Stringer lost a prominent position as a committee chairman last year after a tape circulated on social media of him saying "there aren't enough white kids to go around" when discussing integration in schools. He was later re-elected, but controversy flared again after the election when the New Times posted audio of him telling 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.
Stringer has not responded to emails and phone calls over several days seeking comment about the allegations.