The ethics investigation of Rep. David Stringer will be handled outside of the state House of Representatives.
Rep. T.J. Shope, R-Coolidge, chairs the House Ethics Committee and he announced today that the committee will contract with outside counsel to investigate the complaints filed against Stringer by Reps. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, and Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen. In his statement, Shope noted Stringer will have a chance to respond to their charges in writing.
“I cannot give members a sense of when the review may be completed at this time, but we will be working diligently to finish our work as soon as we can without compromising the integrity and fairness of the investigation,” he said.
Shope urged anyone with relevant information to come forward, and said the committee may still widen the scope of the investigation if additional evidence is presented.
As it stands, the investigation will focus on charges of multiple sex offenses, including child pornography, that were brought against Stringer in Maryland in 1983 and comments he made about race and immigration that were recorded on two separate occasions last year.
Shope declined to take questions after he made the prepared statement at the conclusion of the first Ethics Committee hearing of the session, which was not itself related to the Stringer investigation.
The investigation could end in a recommendation that the House expel Stringer, but a motion to do that still hangs in the air.
Bolding made a motion to expel on Jan. 28. However, he was out-maneuvered by House Republicans, who preferred to put the matter through the ethics process and voted to recess rather than move forward with a vote on expulsion that day.
For now, Bolding has opted not to resurrect his motion until the ethics investigation has been completed.
But that could change.
He said he may bring the motion back sooner if he finds that the investigation is simply wasting time.