An attorney for Rep. Albert Hale is preparing a legal challenge to the newest appointee to the Arizona Senate, who is scheduled to be sworn into office Tuesday morning.
Attorney Tom Ryan has been retained by Hale, D-St. Michaels, to fight the appointment of Carlyle W. Begay, who last week was named state senator representing Legislative District 7 by the Apache County Board of Supervisors.
Begay, who has told the Arizona Capitol Times he’s lived in Gilbert for the past seven years, does not meet the Arizona Constitution’s residency requirement for office, Ryan said. The constitution states that candidates may not serve in the Legislature unless they’ve lived in the county they’re going to represent for at least one year prior to taking office.
Begay previously told the Capitol Times he’s maintained a residency in Apache County for years, but Ryan points to Begay’s service on Gilbert’s Industrial Development Authority Board as evidence that Begay’s true residence is in Maricopa County.
Members of the board, who recommend development projects to the town council, “must reside within the Town limits and be qualified electors,” according to Gilbert’s website.
“His home is in Gilbert, his work is in Phoenix, he’s registered to vote, or at least was up until July 22, in Maricopa County,” said Ryan, who said he’s confident the case is cut and dry.
“If he’s truly a resident of Apache County, he’s violating the town of Gilbert’s law,” Ryan later said.
Ryan said he’s sending a “quo warranto” to Apache County Attorney Michael Whiting and Attorney General Tom Horne demanding that either official take action to stop the appointment on the grounds that Begay would unlawfully be holding office as the LD7 senator.
“You only get one residency,” Ryan said. “The fact that he has a summer home up there or something like that… it still doesn’t wash.”
Begay had his appointment approved by Secretary of State Ken Bennett and is scheduled to be sworn in the Senate chamber at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The incoming senator said he’s not worried about the challenge, and that he’ll “be happy to answer questions after I’m sworn in tomorrow.”
At least one Apache County supervisor is already having second thoughts about the appointment, however.
Supervisor Joe Shirley Jr. made a motion to block Begay’s appointment at a Board of Supervisors meeting Monday morning, according to a county official. But the only other supervisor in attendance, Barry Weller, declined to second it, and the motion stalled.
Shirley’s move would have prompted the board to seek legal advice on how to possibly vacate Begay’s appointment “given recently discovered information that such appointment may have been void as not complying with applicable constitutional provisions,” according to the board’s agenda.
A second agenda item would have restarted the nominating process to find a new state senator for LD7.
Neither Shirley nor Weller returned calls for comment. The third Apache County supervisor who was absent from the board meeting, Tom White, Jr., was traveling Monday and could not be reached.