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Appeals Court Lets LD13 Foreigner Darin Mitchell Stay on Ballot

Legislative District 13 voters will be able to vote for state House candidate Darin Mitchell, despite the fact that a judge ruled he doesn't live in the district.

Mitchell, a Republican, decided to appeal the county superior court ruling ordering him off the ballot, and he ended up winning that battle.

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He didn't contest the part about not living in the district -- Mitchell's attorneys fought the order removing him from the ballot, apparently over petty procedural reasons.

A panel of appeals court judges let Mitchell stay on the ballot, and the state Supreme Court declined hearing the 11th-hour appeal of state Representative Russ Jones, who filed the lawsuit against Mitchell.

Since the ballots started printing last night, Mitchell's name will be on them.

Mitchell already got enough votes in the primary to land on general election ballots in Legislative District 13, along with his running mate, state Representative Steve Montenegro.

But one of Mitchell's alleged "neighbors" told the Arizona Capitol Times that she saw Mitchell claimed to live on her street in Litchfield Park, and she'd never seen him before, let alone anyone else living in the vacant house.

According to county property records, the house in question is owned by Theresa Koontz, who was later discovered to be the manager of Mitchell's campaign committee. She's also donated cash to Montenegro's campaign, according to campaign filings.

Mitchell even told media members that he actually lives with his girlfriend in Avondale, in Legislative District 19, but used both addresses in various filings with the Secretary of State's Office.

Jones, who missed the general election ballot after being bested by Mitchell in the primary, filed the lawsuit, and Mitchell was ordered off the ballot.

A county judge ruled that there was "clear and convincing evidence" Mitchell doesn't live in Legislative District 13, but the appeals court's ruling allows him to stay on the ballot.

What exactly Mitchell is trying to do isn't clear, since Arizona law's pretty clear that you have to live in a state legislative district to represent it.

Jones was actually selected by precinct committeemen to go on the empty spot on the ballot, but that's not happening.

The mess will continue thanks to Mitchell's appeal, as there are other issues that have been brought up in conjecture, including the possibility of criminal charges, IRS violations, and the thousands of bucks Mitchell got in Clean Elections funding, courtesy of taxpayers.



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