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1:53 AM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Kirkpatrick wins lawsuit that tried to knock her off ballot

Then-Democratic senatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Arizona, speaks to supporters during a 2016 election night party in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP Photo, file).

Then-Democratic senatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Arizona, speaks to supporters during a 2016 election night party in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP Photo, file).

PHOENIX — Congressional hopeful Matt Heinz has failed in his bid to knock one of his competitors off the ballot.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joshua Rogers ruled Tuesday that Ann Kirkpatrick met the legal definition of being a resident of Tucson at the time she filed her legal paperwork for the open congressional seat being vacated by Martha McSally.

In a 10-page ruling, Rogers acknowledged that Kirkpatrick, who used to represent a congressional district centered in Northern Arizona, still owns a home in Flagstaff. There also are records introduced into evidence showing that the property on West Cattle Drive is listed as owner-occupied, a classification that reduces its property tax.

Rogers also said she does spend time at a Phoenix condo, which she jointly owns with husband Roger Curley.

But Rogers said based on the evidence he saw as well as Kirkpatrick’s statements in court the day before leads him to conclude that from the time she announced her candidacy in July 2017 and began to collect petition signatures for the Democratic nomination, she “was physically present in Tucson and had an intent to remain in Tucson.’’

Brian Robinson, a spokesman for the Heinz campaign which financed the legal challenge, said the ruling will not be appealed. But he said the hearing did accomplish much of what Heinz wanted. Robinson said it brought to light what he said are facts which should get voters of Congressional District 2 to question Kirkpatrick’s links to the area.

“It moves from the legal court into the court of public opinion,’’ he explained. “And we believe voters have a right to know the mound of evidence that shows Ann Kirkpatrick has made fraudulent and misleading statements in an attempt to further her political career.’’

The legal issue before the judge was not so much where Kirkpatrick lives now.

Nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires that members of Congress live in the district they represent. In fact, Heinz himself lives in the 800 block of South Meyer Avenue in Tucson in Congressional District 3 (CD 3), which is currently represented by Democrat Raul Grijalva.

But attorney David Weatherwax argued that Kirkpatrick violated a state law, which requires all candidates for all offices to file nominating papers “giving the person’s actual residence address.’’ And a separate state law says that nominating petitions also must list the candidate’s address.

Weatherwax argued that there is evidence that Kirkpatrick, at the time she filed the nominating papers and was collecting petition signatures, actually was living with her husband at a condo in Phoenix, which they jointly own through a trust.

In fact, Weatherwax produced documents showing that as recently as last November — months after she declared her candidacy — Kirkpatrick signed legal papers telling a bank that she and her husband would occupy the Phoenix condo as her primary residence.