PHOENIX — A Prescott Republican lawmaker whose comments about race and immigration caused controversy last year publicly apologized Thursday on the House floor.
But David Stringer did not take back any of his comments or suggest he is having second thoughts.
“As my colleagues in the House, I believe you are entitled to an explanation and an apology,” he said, reading from prepared text. “I would never intentionally say or do anything that would make you doubt my respect for you or make you feel uncomfortable working with me.”
Stringer made no specific reference to the comments that caused officials within his own party, including Gov. Doug Ducey, to seek his resignation. Instead, he simply acknowledged their volatile nature.
“Issues that relate to race and ethnicity are very sensitive in any setting,” Stringer said.
“I believe that, on reflection, I have a duty to apologize to you as my colleagues,” he continued, saying he also was apologizing to staffers and “to the public.”
Stringer came under scrutiny last year for a speech to the Republican Men’s Forum in Prescott warning that immigration “represents an existential threat to the United States” and needs to be curtailed before the country is irrevocably altered. He also made comments about integration and said only people from European countries fully assimilate.
Since that time, Stringer was reelected by a healthy margin.
But shortly after winning a new two-year term, Stringer was taped making remarks to students at Arizona State University, saying assimilation doesn’t work with African-Americans and other racial groups “because they don’t melt in, they don’t blend in, they always look different.”
He also said there is a “pretty significant burden” on Arizona taxpayers for having to teach English to students who come to school without that being their first language. He said Hispanics vote Democratic because they want more immigration to bring “more of their co-religionists, their own people like them, into the country.”
Ducey has said through a spokesman, “This type of rhetoric should disqualify someone from serving in the Legislature.” House Speaker Rusty Bowers has said Stringer’s comments were “vile and won’t be tolerated.”
Stringer declined after Thursday’s floor speech to talk about his apology and what it did — and did not — include and whether he believes any of his remarks last year were off-base.
Bowers responded to his speech: “Mr. Stringer, words hurt at times, and to different people more than others. I’m grateful that you recognized that, and that you would be willing to say so in this room.”