The far-right former lawmaker who helped push Arizona’s “papers please” immigration law has resigned as a top official with the state GOP after making comments about sterilizing poor women.
Russell Pearce, a former state senator, resigned as the party’s first vice chair late Sunday, the Arizona Republican Party announced.
On Saturday, the state Democratic Party highlighted comments Pearce made recently on his radio show. Discussing the state’s public assistance programs, Pearce declared: “You put me in charge of Medicaid, 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 comments were quickly repudiated by Republican candidates for several statewide offices.
In a written statement, Pearce said that while discussing “abuses to our welfare system,” he referred to “comments written by someone else and failed to attribute them to the author.”
“This was a mistake,” Pearce added. “This mistake has been taken by the media and the left and used to hurt our Republican candidates.”
As Arizona Senate president, Pearce was the chief sponsor of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, passed in 2010, which has been called the strictest immigration law in the nation’s history. He was removed from office in a 2011 recall election, before being appointed to the state GOP post.