PHOENIX – A new lawsuit seeks to disqualify Ann Kirkpatrick from running for Congress from Southern Arizona, charging that she improperly – and illegally – mislead people who signed her nominating petition.
Legal papers filed Monday in Maricopa County Superior Court charges that Kirkpatrick lied in filing certain nominating papers listing her address as an apartment in Tucson. Attorney Craig Morgan said the evidence shows Kirkpatrick at the time considered a Phoenix condominium as her primary residence.
Even if Morgan does not succeed in having her name removed from the ballot for Congressional District 2, the questions about where Kirkpatrick was living could cause her other legal heartburn.
One is that her Phoenix property is listed – and taxed – as her primary residence. The other is that legal papers signed by her say that she would occupy the Phoenix condo as her primary residence.
Whether any of what Morgan has is enough to have her name removed from the ballot remains to be seen.
There is no legal requirement for congressional candidates to actually live in the district they hope to represent. But Morgan told Capitol Media Services there are legal requirements for candidates to truthfully fill out the legal papers necessary to run for office.
“This is a very simple ‘Tell us where you reside,’” he said. “And you either told the truth or you didn’t.’’
But Rod McLeod, a campaign consultant for Kirkpatrick, said she has lived in Tucson since last summer, before she filed any of the paperwork to run for office.
McLeod acknowledged that she listed two separate addresses on different papers. But McLeod said the first one, in the 5200 block of E. Woodspring Drive, was where she initially stayed; he said the address in the 8300 block of N. Shannon Road is where she signed a lease last October and where she is living now.
He said he couldn’t address the property tax declaration and the deed of trust on the Phoenix property, saying that her husband, Roger Curley, is a tax attorney in Phoenix where he practices and lives at the Portland Street property at least part of the time.
The lawsuit to have Kirkpatrick disqualifies is being financed by Matt Heinz according to his campaign spokesman Brian Robinson. He is one of the six other Democrats in the race hoping to grab the open congressional seat now that current Congresswoman Martha McSally is running for the seat in the U.S. Senate being vacated by Jeff Flake.
A hearing is set for Monday before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Teresa Sanders.
CD 2 runs from the Catalina Foothills through midtown Tucson to Green Valley and then east to the Pima County line where it takes in all of Cochise County.
McSally’s decision has created a political free for all in the district which is almost evenly divided between registered Republicans and Democrats: Four Republicans and seven Democrats are seeking their respective party’s nomination.
Morgan is counting on what could be considered a series of technical violations of state election law.
For example, he said her initial statement of candidacy filed July 20, 2017 with the Federal Election Commission lists only a Tucson post office box. But he said candidates must “expressly disclose her actual residence.’’
Her separate paperwork filed last month with the Secretary of State’s Office lists Shannon Road as her residential address, as well as the post office box. And Morgan said that declaration was signed “under penalty of perjury.’’
Yet some of her nominating petitions list the Woodspring Drive address.
McLeod said both addresses were correct at the time, with some nominating petitions printed when she first lived on Woodspring Drive and the others when she moved to Shannon Road.
But Morgan said that nearly four months after Kirkpatrick filed her initial statement of candidacy, she and her husband, as trustees of a revocable trust, executed a deed of trust on the Phoenix property. That deed, said Morgan, requires the borrower to occupy and use the property “as borrower’s principal residence ... for at least one year after the date of occupancy.’’
The documents do allow the lender to grant an exception. But Morgan said he is unaware of any exception being granted.
He also said the address is taxed as her primary residence. That results in lower property taxes as owner-occupied homes get a rebate on school taxes.
Morgan also is claiming that Kirkpatrick has a “scheme to deceive and defraud the electorate’’ into believing she actually lives in Southern Arizona. He cited social media posts which he said were designed to convince people she was in Southern Arizona on days when he claims she was actually in Phoenix.
Kirkpatrick has been in Congress before – albeit from Northern Arizona where she was first elected in 2008 but defeated two years later in her reelection bid.
After district lines were redrawn, she ran again and won in 2012 and again in 2014. In 2016 she was unsuccessful in her bid as Democrat nominee to unseat incumbent Sen. John McCain.