TPT initiative goes to Mohave Superior Court

Kingman Citizens for Responsible Taxation will appear in Mohave Superior Court before Judge Lee Jantzen at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17. (Travis Rains/Daily Miner)

Kingman Citizens for Responsible Taxation will appear in Mohave Superior Court before Judge Lee Jantzen at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17. (Travis Rains/Daily Miner)

KINGMAN – Members of Kingman Citizens for Responsible Taxation aren’t giving up the fight to have the 1 percent Transaction Privilege Tax go before the voters in November, and on Monday filed two lawsuits in Mohave Superior Court alleging that both Mohave County Recorder Kristi Blair and Kingman City Clerk Sydney Muhle axed signatures that should have been considered valid.

The political action committee, in official court documents, claims Blair “disqualified otherwise-valid signatures from the random sample for the Responsible Sales and Use Tax Act … the end result of which was an inaccurate invalidity rate and ultimately an erroneous determination by the City of Kingman that the Initiative did not qualify for the Nov. 6, 2018 general election ballot.”

There were 3,692 petition signatures filed with the City Clerk’s Office July 5. The initiative needed 2,498 to put the measure on November’s ballot. A random sample of 5 percent of signatures was then forwarded to the Recorder’s Office Aug. 2, which found an invalidity rate of 17.44 percent within the random sample. When applied to the total number of signatures, the initiative had 2,460 valid signatures, just 38 less than what was required to move the measure forward.

The committee alleges that Blair disqualified individual signatures for reasons including a signature that differed from what was found on the voter registration form and signers not being registered although the committee alleges they were, in fact, registered. In one instance, the committee claims the county recorder reviewed voter registration information for the wrong man, who happened to share the name of the actual signer.

“Had the County Recorder properly validated these signatures, the accurate invalidity rate from the random sample would be 14.77 percent,” court documents state. “When applied to the total number of signatures determined to be eligible for verification (2,980), the Initiative would have 2,540 valid signatures, thereby giving the Committee 42 signatures more than the minimum number of valid signatures (2,498) required to qualify for the November 6, 2018 ballot.”

Three of these errors, according to the committee, were corrected by the county recorder Aug. 9. However, that recertification didn’t last long.

“Upon information and belief, the County Recorder received inquiries and pressure from City officials to retract her Recertification, and hours after she issued it, the County Recorder did in fact retract her Recertification,” court documents say.

The reason for retracting the recertification was that the certification submitted Aug. 7 is “the official Certification from the County Recorder’s Office, and no recertification is authorized or permitted by law.”

Kingman Citizens for Responsible Taxation are also alleging that City Clerk Muhle “improperly disqualified whole petition sheets and individual signatures …”

The committee says Muhle failed to transmit one sheet containing 13 signatures because the circulator’s affidavit did not list the county in which it was notarized, even though the sheet complies with Arizona Revised Statutes. Two more petition sheets with 11 valid signatures were not transmitted, the committee claims, because notarization dates were “after some, but not all of the signatures.”

Kingman Citizens for Responsible Taxation are being represented by attorneys from Coppersmith Brockelman PLC, of Phoenix, and will appear in Mohave Superior Court before Judge Lee Jantzen at 2:30 p.m. Friday.