GOP State House Candidate Ordered Off Ballot; Judge Rules Pretending to Live at Buddy's House Doesn't Count as Residency
A Republican state House Candidate has been ordered off general election ballots by a Maricopa County judge, since the candidate pretended to live in a friend's/campaign worker's vacant house to qualify as a resident of the district.
Darin 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.
The suspicion started when one of Mitchell's alleged "neighbors" told the Arizona Capitol Times that she saw Mitchell claimed to live on her street in Litchfield Park, but she'd never seen him before.
After reporters from a couple news outlets showed up, it sure didn't look like anyone lived in the house, which was being renovated. The lawsuit eventually came from the third-place vote-getter, state Representative Russ Jones, who missed the general election ballot after being bested by Mitchell in the primary.
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.
According to the original Cap Times article -- which is attached as an exhibit to the lawsuit -- Mitchell told a reporter that he spends "some time" at the Litchfield Park house. A lot of people spend "some time" in other cities, but they don't get to represent them at the capitol.
He didn't have any sort of lease agreement with Koontz, and other neighbors said the house hadn't been occupied for at least a year.
That said, a judge ruled yesterday that there was "clear and convincing evidence" Mitchell doesn't live in Legislative District 13.
The ballots are printed tonight, and while it seems that Jones should just take his spot, the Republican Party actually nominates the replacement, so he's not a shoo-in.
The ruling can be found below:
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.