Anti-masker asks House minority leader why he wears a slave muzzle, gets banned

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1643324215517{padding-right: 20px !important;padding-left: 15px !important;}”]A Scottsdale anti-mask activist has been banned from the House and Senate buildings after asking a Black lawmaker why he was wearing a “slave muzzle.” 

“The abhorrent and reprehensible behavior demonstrated by this individual toward our members, staff, and the public will not be tolerated,” said House Republican spokesman Andrew Wilder. 

According to videos the Right Wing Watch Twitter account shared online, Ethan Schmidt was at the Capitol Wednesday for a Patriot Party rally in support of House Bill 2596, a sweeping measure that would mostly end mail-in voting and give the Legislature the power to certify or overturn election results. At one point, Patriot Party leader Daniel McCarthy singled out Schmidt, who runs the Anti Maskers’ Club Telegram account and who is known for publicly confronting people wearing masks, for praise. 

Afterwards, Schmidt went into the House, up to the third floor, where he took a video of himself hassling people who were wearing masks. 


“Hey, you guys are throwing away our futures by wearing those masks,” he says to Rep. Chris Mathis, D-Tucson, and a legislative assistant as they walk by. When they ignored him, he made a Nazi salute and said “Heil Fauci!” 

Then, Schmidt tried to interrupt House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding, D-Laveen, who was talking to a couple of women. 

“Hey, why you wearing a slave muzzle man?” Schmidt said. 

Bolding ignored him, finished his conversation and turned to head down a hall into his office. As he walked away, Schmidt repeated, “hey, why you wearing a slave muzzle? Why you wearing a slave muzzle, dude?” 

Bolding said something to a security guard as he walked away, prompting Schmidt to say “I have free speech” as Bolding left. Bolding said on Twitter later Wednesday that what happened to him “was a first (and) should never happen again to anyone, anywhere.” 

“This blatant racism has no place in the people’s House,” he said. 

Prior to this, Schmidt was perhaps best known for a video he posted online last year harassing staff at Sunny’s Hair and Wigs, a Mesa store that requires masks and serves cancer patients. He isn’t a stranger to right-wing Arizona political circles either, as progressive Twitter users quickly pointed out, posting photos and videos he has taken with GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar and state Sen. Wendy Rogers. 

House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, announced later Wednesday that Schmidt was banned from the building. Wilder said security has been briefed and is familiar with Schmidt, and will not let him in if he tries to come back. The Senate has also banned him from their building, said Senate Republican spokeswoman Kim Quintero. 

“Due to his poor conduct, harassment, racist remarks and lack of decorum, he does not have privileges of the Senate building,” she said. 

The last time Bowers banned someone from the building was in 2020. 

“It is thankfully rare that such action needs to be taken, but when appropriate the Speaker has that option and exercises it,” Wilder said. 

Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, condemned Schmidt, or “that yahoo” as he called him, from the House floor Thursday and said he was glad Schmidt is barred from the building. 

“All of this is the people’s House,” Cook said. “That type of behavior is unacceptable, and each one of you, no matter what party we’re in, deserves better than the way Mr. Bolding was treated yesterday.” 

Rep. Rich Andrade, D-Glendale, said he was disgusted to see Schmidt throwing a Nazi salute in the video. Not much earlier, lawmakers had heard a proclamation and observed a moment of silence in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

“What happened to my colleague, my friend, my leader Rep. Bolding was uncalled for,” Andrade said. “I cannot keep quiet and silent about this, because as a veteran and co-chair of the Veterans’ Caucus, it is our responsibility and our duty as veterans to remind everyone the reason that we went to war during World War II was to wipe out that kind of hate, and yet it still exists.” [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Rep. Stringer apologizes to colleagues on House floor

Rep. David Stringer, R-Prescott, answers questions Wednesday about his comments which were interpreted by some as racist. Stringer said he was not a racist but simply was detailing his views on the effects of rapid immigration on the country. With him is the Rev. Jarrett Maupin who agreed to let Stringer explain his comments to leaders of the African-American community in Phoenix. PHOTO BY HOWARD FISCHER/CAPITOL MEDIA SERVICES

Rep. David Stringer apologized on the House floor today for inflammatory comments he has made about race.

Last year, the Republican from Prescott was twice recorded making comments about race and immigration, including that there aren’t “enough white kids to go around” in Arizona’s public schools and that African Americans “don’t blend in.”

“Issues that related to race and ethnicity are very sensitive in any setting,” he said today. “I believe, upon reflection, I have a duty to apologize to you as my colleagues.”

He said he has a deep personal respect for each of his House colleagues, and would never intentionally say or do anything to make them uncomfortable around him.

Following his most recent episode, House Speaker Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, asked him to resign as chair of the House Sentencing and Recidivism Reform Committee, which was later dissolved entirely. Stringer was also removed from the House Judiciary and Education Committees.

Still, not everyone was satisfied with the sanctions.

In December, Assistant Minority Leader Randy Friese said Stringer had already proven himself to be an ineffective legislator for his district and warned there would be a hyper focus on how Stringer interacted with his colleagues this session.

“Things that I have said are a deep concern to many of you,” Stringer said today, adding many of his colleagues had raised their concerns directly with him. “I want you to know that I am sorry.”

This is the first time Stringer has publicly apologized for his most recent comments, which were reported on by the Phoenix New Times in late November.

But he has sought to defend himself.

Just yesterday, Stringer sent a letter to his legislative colleagues blaming the “media filter making a mess of things” and inviting them to meet with him if his comments made them mad.

He expressed some regret in the letter – for “not recognizing the trap and simply walking away.”

“We all know people who say everything right, but whose deeds are lacking and whose hearts are closed by real bigotry,” he wrote. “They are the real problem when we talk about these issues.”

In the letter, he argued his comments had been taken out of context and conceded only that he “wasn’t choosing my words carefully in anticipation that they would be selectively excerpted.”

At the conclusion of his remarks today, Bowers addressed him directly. He said words hurt, and he was grateful to Stringer for recognizing that now and saying so on the floor.

“We will not always agree. We don’t have to believe the same,” Bowers said. “But words matter, and I hope you, all of you will correct me and that we will correct ourselves as we do the people’s work here.”