AZ head of schools candidate defends disgraced ex-lawmaker working on his campaign
Days after the interview on Politics Unplugged, Horne said he refunded an in-kind contribution by David Stringer
EDITORS NOTE: This article has been updated with comments from Tom Horne and Horne’s opponent, current state superintendent Kathy Hoffman.
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Tom Horne, a Republican candidate for Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction, confirmed that former state Rep. David Stringer, who was at one time charged with child sex crimes, is doing work for his campaign for state office. Horne confirmed the association in an interview with Morgan Loew for Politics Unplugged. But days later, Horne reversed his stance on Stringer saying he is no longer with the campaign and an in-kind donation was refunded.
The controversy started when Horne posted a photo to Twitter with Stringer on Aug. 3, a day after securing the Republican nomination for the state’s highest education post.
“Absolutely and he’s completely innocent of the charges against him,” Horne said when asked if Stringer was associated with his campaign. “Believe me, if he had done what he was accused of, he would have been disbarred.”
Full interview with Tom Horne on Politics Unplugged
But in 2019, Stringer resigned from the Arizona House of Representatives after he was recorded making racist speeches, including one about public school children. If elected, Horne would oversee the state’s public school system.
“Sixty percent of public school kids in Arizona today are minorities. There aren’t enough white kids to go around,” Stringer said at the time. That is also when a police report surfaced from 1983 when police alleged the 36-year-old Stringer to have paid two young boys to have sex with him.
Stringer appears to have pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, but the court records were later expunged.
“I disagree with those things [Stringer’s comments on the race of public school children] but there have been serious allegations made against him personally that have been disproven,” Horne said. “He reported corrupt police officers. These police officers had a system for dealing with people who complained about them. They had a witness who would make the exact same charges against different people.”
“It was proven there was nothing to it and it was all investigated and it was shown,” Horne said. “Sometimes people plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid the bigger charge.” Horne’s opponent in the upcoming election, current School Superintendent Kathy Hoffman, sent this statement regarding Horne’s association with Stringer:
“David Stringer resigned in disgrace from the legislature to avoid being expelled after reports of his molestation of children came to light. And Tom Horne counts him as a top campaign ally and donor. It’s deeply unsettling.”
Following the interview with Horne airing on Politics Unplugged Hoffman said it was ‘disqualifying’ for Horne to “have a pedophile working for his campaign for state superintendent.”
Hoffman also called on the Arizona Republican Party and all Republican candidates to denounce Horne and his decision to let Stringer work on the campaign.
On August 30, just days after telling reporter Morgan Loew that Stringer was working on his campaign, Tom Horne said in a tweet he has refunded the in-kind contribution by Stringer and said “[Stringer] is not involved with our campaign.”
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