Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick acknowledged Monday she was circulating petitions for her congressional bid last year and earlier this year which bore a Tucson address where she did not live at the time.
Under often testy questioning from the attorney for challengers to her candidacy, Kirkpatrick also admitted she paid no rent at the first of two addresses at which she claims to have lived. And she also said she has no insurance for the loss of personal possession at the apartment she now lists as her address even though she maintains similar coverage for a home and a condo in Flagstaff and Phoenix respectively.
Attorney David Weatherwax is using her answers to undermine her claim of Tucson residency even as she seeks to represent the congressional district that covers the eastern half of Pima County and all of Cochise County.
But Daniel Arellano, one of her attorneys, said nothing in her answers proves that she was not a resident of the district.
More to the point, he said that even if Kirkpatrick was not living at the Tucson addresses she listed on her nominating papers and petitions — a point he is not conceding — it does not matter. Arellano told to Judge Joshua Rogers that the U.S. Constitution does not impose residency requirements on congressional candidates or even members of Congress once they are elected. Instead, he said, the only mandate that can be imposed is that someone be an “inhabitant” of the state where they are running.
Anything else, he said, is legally irrelevant.
Craig Morgan, also representing challengers, said that’s true — up to a point.
He said Arizona law requires all candidates for all offices to list their address on nominating papers and petitions. And he argued to Rogers that law is valid and enforceable — and does not conflict with the U.S. Constitution — because it is designed to prevent possible confusion by petition signers and voters.
Arellano scoffed at that.
“There is only one Ann Kirpatrick running for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District,” he said.
The legal challenge to her candidacy based on residency questions will disappear if Rogers accepts Arellano’s argument that it does not matter where she was or is living. Rogers said he will rule on that question as early as today.
But with a deadline to resolve election challenges, the judge still wanted to hear both sides argue on Monday the question of where Kirkpatrick lived before and lives now should he conclude that the legal challenge is valid.
At various points in the hearing, that lasted all afternoon, she and Weatherwax got into disputes over details of her residency.
For example, Weatherwax pointed out that Kirkpatrick was still writing checks with her Flagstaff address on them long after she said she moved to Tucson.
Then there’s the fact that she paid no actual rent at the first Tucson residence but instead picked up the utility bills. Kirkpatrick said there’s nothing wrong or unusual with that, saying the homeowners, , friends of her husband, spend half the year in Tucson and half the year elsewhere.
“It was a win-win,” she said.
“They wanted to have somebody in the house,” Kirkpatrick continued. “We took care for the house for them.”
And Weatherwax even tried to make a point about a photo taken by an acquaintance of her closet at the Tucson address.
“There aren’t a lot of clothes in this picture,” he said.
“I don’t wear a lot of clothes,” she shot back.
Then there were questions about addresses on some documents not matching up with the dates she said she lives at different places.
In February, for example, she signed a petition to help put Bill Mundell on the ballot in his bid for Arizona Corporation Commission. But the address listed on the petition was not where she was living at the time.
“I didn’t write that in,” Kirkpatrick responded, saying she simply put in her post office box number.
Kirkpatrick testified she moved from Flagstaff last year to the first Tucson address — the home that belonged to another couple on East Woodspring Drive — to be with her daughter. She later began looking for an apartment to share with son-in-law Sheridan Curry; they moved to North Shannon Road last October.
But Kirkpatrick said she definitely was in Tucson as of April 2017 when she decided to run for Congress, a decision she said she made after Martha McSally, who currently represents the congressional district, voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
She also vehemently denied that she was ever a resident of Phoenix where her husband, Roger Curry, resides. Kirkpatrick said the only reason she spent half of her nights at that address in May is that she was involved in campaigning and raising money for her race.
“I don’t live there,” she told Weatherwax.
“The court gets to make that decision,” he responded.
The lawsuit to have Kirkpatrick disqualified is being financed by Matt Heinz according to his campaign spokesman Brian Robinson. He is one of the six other Democrats in the race hoping to grab the open congressional seat now that McSally is running for the seat in the U.S. Senate being vacated by Jeff Flake.