Legislator who resigned amid probe to run for county office

FILE - In this June 27, 2018 file photo, then Arizona state Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, speaks at a community forum in Phoenix. Stringer, a former Arizona state legislator who resigned last March amid an ethics investigation of 1983 sex charges and his comments on race and immigration is running for office again. He announced his candidacy, Friday, Jan. 10, 2019 for Yavapai County attorney, an office now held by a fellow Republican whom he accused of wasting tax dollars by locking up low-level offenders. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

PHOENIX — Former Arizona state Rep. David Stringer is running for office again, just nine months the Republican lawmaker resigned amid an ethics investigation of 1983 sex charges and comments he made on race and immigration.

Stringer announced his candidacy on Friday night for Yavapai County attorney, an office now held by a longtime Republican whom he accused of wasting tax dollars by locking up low-level offenders.

When he resigned March 27, Stringer faced possible expulsion for his refusal to turn over records to the ethics investigation.

He was the subject of two ethics complaints following newspaper reports that he was charged with sex crimes more than three decades ago. The charges were later expunged and Stringer's lawyersaid last year the charges never resulted in a conviction.

Stringer also was being investigated over 2018 comments that were widely denounced as racist. Those included him telling university students that African Americans “don't blend in." He apologized for his language in a speech on a speech on the House floor in January 2019.

Stringer said in his candidacy announcement statement that Yavapai County needs “a fresh approach to criminal justice" and that incumbent County Attorney Sheila Polk's policies resulted in “too many low-level nonviolent offenders who are crowding our jail and driving up costs to the taxpayers."

Stringer said he quit his House seat to protect his law license rather than violate a court order by complying with a subpoena for records. He did not elaborate but his attorney said last year the Houses Ethics Committee sought confidential records that included ones from a District of Columbia Bar investigation.

Stringer in his statement said he was targeted while a legislator "by the liberal media and even some of my fellow legislators.”

As county attorney, he said he'd fight to protect gun rights and combat illegal immigration.

Polk did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment on Stringer's candidacy and his criticism of her performance in office.

A career prosecutor, Polk was first elected county attorney in 2000 and is now serving her fifth four-year term. She was unopposed in the 2016 primary and general elections.

Yavapai County is located in largely rural north-central Arizona and is the state's fourth most populous county with an estimated 2017 population of 230,000.

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Associated Press reporter Jonathan J. Cooper contributed to this story.

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