Former Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) resigned his position as first vice chairman of the Arizona Republican Party on Sunday amid criticism by prominent Republican candidates of Pearce’s recent comments on sterilization and poor women.
According to the Arizona Republic, the resignation follows the Arizona Democratic party highlighting Pearce saying on his radio talk program that if he were in charge of Arizona’s public assistance programs “the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth control implants, or tubal ligations…Then we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want [to reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”
The Arizona GOP announced that Pearce had stepped down late Sunday, following a number of candidates denouncing Pearce’s remarks.
Pearce said the comments were a mistaken that had been twisted by the media. He said that during his radio show on Sept. 9 there was “a discussion about the abuses to our welfare system” and he highlighted “comments written by someone else and failed to attribute them to the author.”
“This was a mistake,” Pearce said. “This mistake has been taken by the media and the left and used to hurt our Republican candidates.”
Arizona congressional candidates as well as the Republican nominees for governor, secretary of state, and attorney general all denounced Pearce’s remarks, according to the Republic.
Pearce served as the Arizona Senate president and was the chief sponsor of the state’s harsh immigration law. He was thrown out of office in a recall in 2011, but then was chosen as the first vice chairman of the Arizona GOP the following year.