It was announced late Sunday evening that former Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, who was serving as vice-chairman of the state’s Republican Party, resigned from his post after offensive comments he made earlier in the month were highlighted by Arizona Democrats over the weekend. On his AM talk radio show, Pearce claimed that women who are on Medicaid should be forced to undergo sterilization procedures. He also claimed that if people need help, they should rely on family and the church instead of government.
Pearce, who was the author and driving force behind Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070, made his comments on September 9th. However, they flew under the radar until this past weekend, when the Arizona Democratic Party caught wind of the program and sent out a press release pointing out Pearce’s highly offensive statement. Per The Arizona Republic, Pearce said the following on his radio program:
“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.”
According to the Huffington Post, Pearce also claimed that people who need help shouldn’t rely on the government, but instead look to family and the church.
Pearce said “people out there [who] need help” should get it from “family, church, and community,” not the government.
The Arizona GOP released a statement from Pearce on Sunday night where he announced his resignation. In the statement, he said that during his discussion of the welfare state, he repeated comments from another author but forgot to point out that the statement was from someone else. You gotta love how Pearce took on full ownership and personal responsibility for his own words by blaming it on a personal failure to attribute an offensive statement to some other person.
“As an unapologetic conservative, I’ve stood up for the rule of law and our constitutional freedoms. I love this great Republic, and have loved serving Arizona and my service with the Republican party. Recently on my radio show there was a discussion about the abuses to our welfare system. I shared comments written by someone else and failed to attribute them to the author. This was a mistake. This mistake has been taken by the media and the left and used to hurt our Republican candidates.”
Republicans in Arizona wasted no time distancing themselves from Pearce and harshly criticizing his comments once the Democrats sent out their press release. Martha McSally, who is in a tight Congressional race against incumbent Democrat Ron Barber, sent out the following tweet.
Russell Pearce’s ignorant, hateful comments are insulting to women everywhere. He needs to resign or be removed from office immediately.
— Martha McSally (@MarthaMcSally) September 15, 2014
Michele Reagan, Republican nominee for Secretary of State, was very critical of Pearce’s comments.
The obnoxious comments made by Russell Pearce were both disgusting and offensive. Let it be known, he is NOT the voice of my GOP. #Resign!
— Michele Reagan (@VoteReagan) September 15, 2014
Arizona Republicans are tripping all over themselves trying to distance themselves from Pearce and make sure voters don’t associate his ugly hatred with their individual campaigns. It remains to be seen how much damage this will have in close races.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).