Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Kirkpatrick CD2 residency claims challenged by Heinz supporters in court filing


Dylan Smith at the Tucson Sentinel reports that CD2 candidate Dr. Matt Heinz wants to boot Kirkpatrick off primary ballot over residence claims. Local Dems file to kick ex-congresswoman off candidate list.

A trio of Tucson-area Democrats is trying to narrow the CD 2 primary field by getting the apparent front-runner booted off the ballot. Those pressing a lawsuit challenging the nominating petitions filed by Ann Kirkpatrick are supporters of candidate Matt Heinz, who said he backs the legal move.

The 13-page suit claims that Kirkpatrick, a former congresswoman from Flagstaff, doesn’t live in Tucson as she stated in her petitions to earn a spot on the August ballot.

The challenge, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on Monday, alleges that Kirkpatrick and her husband instead live in Phoenix near his law office.

Congressional representatives are not required by the U.S. Constitution to live in the district they are elected from — they only must reside in the state — but the suit drafted by Phoenix attorney Craig Morgan wants to have Kirkpatrick’s name pulled off the list of Democratic primary candidates, with a judge tossing out any nominating petitions that include addresses in Southern Arizona.

The suit claims that “Kirkpatrick claims to actually reside in Southern Arizona. However, Kirkpatrick does not actually reside in Southern Arizona, but instead resides in Maricopa County …. Kirkpatrick has defrauded, misled, and confused the electorate….”

The suit, filed on behalf of Tucson-area voters Thomas Elias, his wife Regina Mireles-Elias, and Tuan Vo, maintains that Kirkpatrick’s nominating papers are “invalid.”

Vo is a public supporter of Heinz, a former state legislator who lost the 2016 general election to U.S. Rep. Martha McSally. Vo has contributed $5,400 to Heinz’s campaign in this cycle, federal campaign finance records show. Mireles-Elias and her husband were featured in Heinz’s campaign commercials last year, along with Tuan, the candidate said.

A spokesman for Kirkpatrick’s campaign, Rodd McLeod, said emphatically Monday afternoon that “Ann Kirkpatrick lives in Tucson.”

She’s lived in Tucson since last spring. She rented a house on Woodspring (Drive), and then moved to an apartment on Shannon (Road) that she shares with her son," McLeod said.

“Apparently to run in District 2, you need to live in District 3,” McLeod said, referencing a home owned by Heinz that sits in the cross-town congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva.

McLeod said Monday that Kirkpatrick “has been followed around. The suit says something about her getting mail — what are you doing, looking in her mailbox?”

Kirkpatrick has a large lead in the fundraising race.

A statement released by Heinz said he was “supporting” the legal challenge to Kirkpatrick’s candidacy, accusing her of “fraudulent activities” and “lies and cover-up” about where she lives. Spokesman Brian Robinson acknowledged that Heinz’s campaign is funding the lawsuit.

Heinz’s campaign has for a year drawn attention to Kirkpatrick’s decision to register to vote and declare her candidacy in Southern Arizona last July, carefully avoiding the term while invoking the spirit of the “carpetbagger” charges made against her by Republicans.

Also in the race on the Democratic side are Mary Matiella, a former assistant Army secretary seeking elected office for the first time; and political newcomers Billy Kovacs, Barbara Sherry and Yahya Yuksel. Former state representative and ex-Tucson City Councilman Bruce Wheeler is again running in the Democratic congressional primary.

Joe Ferguson at the Daily Star has more in details in his report, Locals seek to oust Kirkpatrick from CD2 race, say she doesn’t live in Tucson.

The 13-page filing seeks to kick Kirkpatrick off of the ballot for Congressional District 2, arguing that she lied on her nominating petitions by listing two Tucson addresses when in fact she doesn’t live in Southern Arizona.

The claim offers a detailed narrative backed with a paper trail that shows Kirkpatrick and her husband, Roger Curley, actually live in Phoenix near the law offices where Curley works.

Craig Morgan, an attorney representing the Tucson voters, told the Arizona Daily Star that he has overwhelming evidence that Kirkpatrick went to great lengths to trick voters in Congressional District 2.

“It is a case about being honest with the electorate,” Morgan said.

No federal law requires Kirkpatrick to live in the district, but that isn’t the crux of the legal argument designed to nullify the signatures for the ballot.

“Our statutes do require you on certain forms, which are your nomination paperwork and petitions, to list your actual address, and there is a reason for that — people need to know where you live,” Morgan said.

Brian Robinson, the campaign manager for the Heinz campaign, said the Kirkpatrick team doesn’t seem to understand the problem.

“The fact that Ann lives in Phoenix and comes to Southern Arizona for special occasions isn’t the issue,” he said.

“The problem is that she lied about it and swore in official documents that her lies are the truth.”

The filing requests that that the judge nullify nominating petitions, bar her from being on the primary ballot in August and prevent her from running as a write-in candidate in the fall.

A spokesperson for Kirkpatrick, Rodd McLeod, said one of Kirkpatrick’s political rivals — emergency room Dr. Matt Heinz — is funding the baseless legal claim.

“Nobody is surprised by another false attack by Matt Heinz, who hasn’t won a campaign in years due to his negative GOP-style politics,” McLeod said. “Ann Kirkpatrick lives in Tucson in District 2, not in District 3 where Matt lives.”

Stay tuned for more developments

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