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Phoenix legislator targeted in election law investigation

Phoenix legislator Catherine Miranda targeted in election law investigation

Catherine Miranda (File photo)

Rep. Catherine Miranda, a Phoenix Democrat expected to be re-elected in Legislative District 27, is under investigation for possible election law violations.

Matt Roberts, spokesman for the Secretary of State, said Friday that the office sent two separate referrals to the Attorney General on Sept. 7 and Sept. 13 for criminal investigation.

Roberts said one has to do with questionable signatures on Miranda’s Clean Elections qualifying petitions.  He said he could not discuss the other because it would compromise the investigation.

“The Clean Elections issue raised our eyebrows in the office and caused us to look into the rest of her paperwork she filed with our office during this election cycle,” Roberts said.

Miranda failed to qualify for Clean Elections funding this year after an examination of her signatures by county election officials found that 19 percent, or 48 of 251 signatures submitted, were invalid.

Miranda said at the time that her invalid signatures were the result of a large senior citizen base of support and their handwriting had changed over the years, which caused them not to match with signatures on file with the Maricopa County Elections Department.

An analysis of the voters’ birthdates for each of the 37 signatures that didn’t match revealed that only eight came from voters older than 65.

Miranda did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Despite being behind in fundraising, Miranda finished second in a three-way primary contest Aug. 28. She and Rep. Ruben Gallego have Republican challenger Daniel Coleman in the Democratic stronghold district.

Miranda’s legal problems aren’t the only ones for the family. She is the sister-in-law of former Rep. Richard Miranda, who resigned in February and was sentenced in June after  his guilty pleas to tax evasion and wire fraud for stealing money from a charity he ran. Richard Miranda is serving a 27-month sentence in federal prison.

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