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Arizona GOP official resigns after saying poor women should be sterilized

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A top GOP official in Arizona resigned from his statewide position after calling for the forced sterilization of women on welfare.

Russell Pearce, the first vice-chair of the state’s Republican Party and recalled Arizona senate president, made the comments Sept. 6 on his weekly, self-titled talk radio program, reported the Phoenix New Times.

“You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations,” Pearce said on his KKNT-AM program. “Then we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”

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In addition to forced sterilization, Pearce suggested recipients of public assistance be tested for drugs and alcohol, have their homes subjected to random searches, and severely cutting the amount of food aid and dictating what items recipients could buy.

After both Democrats and Republicans urged him to step down from his elected but unpaid statewide position, he submitted his resignation Sunday — essentially claiming he had plagiarized the offensive remarks.

“Recently on my radio show there was a discussion about the abuses to our welfare system,” Pearce said in a statement. “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.”

Pearce did not identify the author whose comments he shared without attribution, but a top Republican strategist denied the views represented mainstream thinking in the state’s GOP.

“Remember,” tweeted Sean Noble, a Republican strategist with DC London. “Republican voters in the most conservative city in US repudiated Pearce twice: recall & primary.”

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Pearce, a former chief deputy under controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, lost a 2011 recall election over ethics concerns and his sponsorship of a controversial anti-immigration law authored by the racist Federation for American Immigration Reform.

He lost a 2012 Republican primary race to regain his senate seat.

He had been working since July 28 for Maricopa County Treasurer Charles “Hos” Hoskins, who restored a position that had been abolished five years ago in a cost-cutting move.

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Pearce apparently remains in that position, where he is paid $85,000 a year to help promote participation in the Elderly Assistance Fund, which helps low-income seniors reduce their property taxes.

[Image via Wikipedia Commons]

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