Augustus Shaw Considers Dropping Out of Legislative Race After Residency Complaint

HOA lawyer Augustus Shaw tells New Times today that he's "strongly considering" dropping his run for the State House following an official complaint that he doesn't live in the right legislative district.

Shaw, a Republican, wants to represent District 17 in Tempe, but the complaint alleges that he actually lives in south Tempe's District 20.

Local law firm Perkins Coie Brown & Bain received a tip about Shaw's alleged identity crisis and hired a private eye to spy on him.

In one Saturday-to-Monday period earlier this month, Shaw spent lots of time at the District 20 house where -- conveniently -- his wife, children and dog live. But he wasn't seen to spend any time at the District 17 house listed on his candidacy paperwork.

Shaw told the Arizona Capitol Times last week that the District 17 house is his in-laws' place, and he gave a hard-to-swallow story to that paper about why he splits his time between the two homes:

Shaw said he moved to his in-laws' home in District 17 because he and his wife planned to move there for the benefit of their 6-year-old autistic son. They delayed the move because his wife wanted to keep their son near his school, where he attends a program for autistic children, but Shaw decided to move into his in-laws' home in July 2009 to begin preparing for the family's move, he said.

For good measure, Shaw also told the Cap Times that the Democratic Party was "trying to drag my poor family and my poor autistic son into a political arena."

Rhonda Barnes, a litigator with Perkins Coie Brown & Bain, tells New Times her firm "had no idea" that Shaw's son was autistic and that it was incorrect for him to assume otherwise.

Shaw says he now regrets making the comment about his son to the Cap Times.

He became emotional (or seemingly so) during a phone call with New Times this morning, saying that family issues led to the residency complaint.

"Due to family issues, my family resides somewhere else," he says.

Yet, compared with the private eye's report, his claim doesn't seem credible. Shaw apparently does live with his family -- on weekends and some weekdays.

Shaw tells us that he does spend some time at his in-laws' house on weekdays. Asked if he spends more total waking hours each week at the house where his family lives than at the District 17 home, Shaw contends that Arizona law doesn't prohibit such a situation.

He's a lawyer so we probably shouldn't quibble with him over legal matters. However, after reading the law in question, our non-lawyerly opinion is that he's bullshitting.

A hearing is scheduled for Thurdsay, but it sounds like Shaw isn't sure if he'll attend:

"I'm seriously considering withdrawing" from the race, he says. "Not because I'm wrong. Not because I'm lying. They tried to subpoena my wife while we were out of town this weekend."

He knew politics was a "blood sport," he says, but he hadn't expected his family to get dragged into it.

Guess he figured that since he was being backed by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, it would be his opponents who'd end up bloody.

UPDATE: Shaws backs off thinking about backing off and vows to fight the complaint vigorously.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.