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12:03 AM Tue, Nov. 13th

Former legislative candidate says she’ll file suit over GOP primary loss

Jennifer Jones-Esposito, who lost her bid for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives for District 5 on Aug. 28, was charged in June with two counts of no dog license, both misdemeanors. She is claiming these charges and the timing of their dismissal were the reasons she was not elected. (Submitted photo)

Jennifer Jones-Esposito, who lost her bid for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives for District 5 on Aug. 28, was charged in June with two counts of no dog license, both misdemeanors. She is claiming these charges and the timing of their dismissal were the reasons she was not elected. (Submitted photo)

A former candidate for the Arizona Legislature intends to file suit against Mohave County for her loss in last week’s election.

Jennifer Jones-Esposito, who ran in the primary race for Arizona House of Representatives District 5 on Aug. 28, was charged in June with two counts of no dog license, both misdemeanors. She claimed that a Mohave County animal control officer at the time of the incident trespassed on her Golden Valley property and then cited her based on hearing dogs but not seeing them.

In late August, the county filed a motion to dismiss the charges without prejudice and Jones-Esposito says she responded to the motion Tuesday by filing a motion of her own: proceed to trial for the chance of an acquittal, she said, or dismiss without prejudice. It may be days before she receives a response, she added.

In the meantime, Jones-Esposito claims the charges made against her were politically motivated and potentially cost her a win in the primary election. She finished the race with 7,021 votes, the least of her opponents Regina Cobb, Paul Mosley and Leo Biasiucci.

“It’s a violation of Arizona revised statutes to use county resources to influence an election and I’ve probably captured, I don’t know, a dozen of screenshots of people on Facebook alone just posting that this incident swayed their opinion of me to the negative,” she said. “So the question is given the amount of evidence I collected over the last few months, would a jury believe that it influenced the election and that it was politically motivated and that I had been damaged by this? I believe a reasonable person would find that in the end.”

Jones-Esposito believes supporters of Mohave County Supervisor Jean Bishop may be behind the original complaint to the animal control officer in retaliation for her attempt to call the elected official earlier this year.

She plans to hire an attorney and file a notice of claim against the county in the coming weeks, she said.

“I think it was meant to cast me in a negative light as someone who breaks laws and is running for an office to write laws, in the same respect that Mr. Mosley outed himself as someone who we sent to write law and yet he had no respect for the law,” she said, referring to a March incident in which Mosley was pulled over for speeding on State Route 95 near Parker, bragging to the sheriff’s deputy that he regularly drives as fast as 140 miles per hour and using his legislative immunity to avoid a speeding ticket. “It’s unfortunate because of the four of us in the race I really had the cleanest record so when there really isn’t anything you’ve actually done wrong all they have left is to try and create something.”

In July, Jones-Esposito told Today’s News-Herald she had been arrested multiple times while living in Quartzsite but never convicted. In 2010, she also filed a legal complaint against the Town of Quartzsite for allegedly engaging in illegal conduct and conspiring together to deny her constitutional rights, according to court documents. The court ultimately dismissed her complaint in 2011. According to the Parker Pioneer, she filed a similar complaint against the Town of Quartzsite again that year, which was also dismissed.

“Our office reviewed the police reports from animal control when it came in, we treated and evaluated the case like any other person charged with an offense,” said Mohave County Attorney Matthew Smith about Jones-Esposito’s ongoing case with the county. “After reviewing the report and looking at the case, we decided that there was not enough evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, therefore, we dismissed the case.”

He added that the county had not yet received Jones-Esposito’s response to the county’s motion to dismiss. He declined to comment further.