Former state Senator and SB 1070 author Russell Pearce dead at 75

Russell Pearce, died Thursday after a brief illness. He was known as the author of SB 1070, dubbed the "show your papers" bill by its opponents.
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 2:40 PM MST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2023 at 4:41 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MESA, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5) — Former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, who was well known as the author of the 2010 controversial immigration bill SB 1070, died on Thursday after a brief illness. He was 75 years old.

The Mesa Republican and former Sheriff’s deputy died Thursday, according to a spokesperson with the Republican Caucus of the Arizona State Senate. Pearce was one of the most politically polarizing figures in recent Arizona history, riding an anti-immigration movement to national prominence. He was the lead sponsor of SB 1070, a law that allowed law enforcement in Arizona to demand proof of citizenship during traffic stops. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down most of the law as unconstitutional but upheld the so-called “show me your papers” provision.

Pearce was also the first state senator in Arizona history to be recalled by voters in his district.

Pearce served in the state senate for nearly five years. Prior to his political role, Pearce served as a deputy sheriff with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for nearly 20 years. Pearce also served as a state representative and later as the director of ADOT’s Motor Vehicle Division.

The former senator’s family released this statement Thursday: