An Arizona legislator resigned Wednesday amid an ethics investigation into reports that he was charged with sex crimes decades ago, a sudden surrender just months after colleagues had called on him to step down over derogatory remarks he made about black people and immigrants.
The Republican state representative, David Stringer of Prescott, Ariz., came under fire in December after he told university students that black people “don’t blend in” to society like European immigrants and “always look different.” Mr. Stringer refused to resign even though members of his own party called on him to do so.
In late January, Mr. Stringer began to face heightened scrutiny from fellow legislators after a local news outlet, The Phoenix New Times, reported that he had been charged with multiple sex offenses, including child pornography, when he lived in Maryland in the early 1980s.
Mr. Stringer, who could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday night, told another local news outlet, Prescott eNews, in January that he had been falsely accused and that there was “no guilty plea, no conviction.” (Mr. Stringer, a lawyer, is an investor in Prescott eNews.)
After local news reports about the decades-old charges, two state legislators, one from each party, submitted complaints to the Arizona House Ethics Committee that prompted an investigation. On Wednesday, Mr. Stringer faced a deadline from the committee to hand over documents related to the Maryland court case, said State Representative Reginald Bolding, a Democrat who filed one of the complaints to the committee.
Instead, Mr. Stringer resigned.
“It makes myself and my colleagues believe that the information was so damning,” Mr. Bolding said in a phone interview, “that he would prefer to resign.”
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr. Stringer railed against the chairman of the Ethics Committee, State Representative T.J. Shope, accusing him of “denying me due process, denying me access to speak to my accusers, and trying to force me to disclose court-sealed documents.” Mr. Shope, a Republican, did not respond to an email request for comment on Wednesday night.
Mr. Stringer told Prescott eNews in January that “any kind of porn allegations were completely dismissed.” He told the news outlet that he had accepted a plea of “probation before judgment” on a couple of the charges.
Mr. Stringer, whose lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment, said on Facebook that he believed his opponents were “trying to use the old arrest to smear me and push me out of office.”
State Representative Kelly Townsend, a Republican who filed one of the complaints with the Ethics Committee, said in a phone interview that she wanted to give Mr. Stringer the chance for due process during the committee’s proceedings. In her letter to the committee, dated Jan. 25, Ms. Townsend wrote that “disturbing” reports accusing Mr. Stringer of a criminal history involving child pornography should be formally investigated.
“I was hoping he’d be able to establish his innocence,” she said in the interview. “I was hoping he’d be able to open the records and show us. And that didn’t happen.”
She added, “This is a situation that just cannot be overlooked.”
Last June, Mr. Stringer survived pressure to step down after he said that minority immigration prevented schools from integrating. Both the state Republican Party chairman and the Republican governor, Doug Ducey, called for Mr. Stringer to resign after those comments, according to The Associated Press.
Mr. Stringer was one of two Republicans elected to represent the state’s First Legislative District in November.
Mr. Bolding, the Democratic legislator, said in an interview that the resignation felt like a “culmination of who David Stringer has shown himself to be.”
“It’s unfortunate that the people in his district didn’t realize who he was when they sent him to the House,” he said.