Lawsuit claims expelled lawmaker can’t run for office

June 9, 2018

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, state Rep. Don Shooter gestures on the floor of the Arizona House in Phoenix, Ariz. A new lawsuit says the former state lawmaker, expelled for a pattern of sexual harassment, shouldn't be allowed to run for office again because he doesn't live in the district. (AP Photo/Bob Christie, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — A lawsuit claims an Arizona Republican expelled from the state House amid sexual misconduct allegations shouldn’t be allowed to run for state Senate because he doesn’t live in the district he’s seeking to represent.

Republican candidate Brent Backus claims Don Shooter doesn’t live at the Yuma address he supplied to state election officials and instead lives nearly 200 miles away in Phoenix.

“Mr. Shooter is not eligible for state Senate in District 13 under Arizona law and he cannot have his name printed on the ballot,” the lawsuit says.

Shooter didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Shooter was expelled from the state House in February after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct and harassment.

He was the first state lawmaker kicked out of office since the #MeToo movement began.

Last month, he filed 828 signatures to qualify to run for state Senate for the same district that covers parts of Yuma and extends to Buckeye.

Arizona law doesn’t forbid an expelled lawmaker from running for office again, according to the secretary of state’s office. But Backus’ lawsuit says the state constitution specifies that someone who hasn’t been a resident of a district for at least one year prior to their election isn’t eligible for office there.

In his candidate filing papers, Shooter declared under penalty of perjury that his address is an apartment in Yuma.

Backus says in his lawsuit that Shooter resides at a 2,660-square-foot home in Phoenix that Maricopa County records say is owned by Shooter and the Shooter Family Trust.

The lawsuit also claims Shooter and his wife registered to vote using the Phoenix address a month before he filed the election signatures.

The Maricopa County recorder’s office said Shooter registered to vote on April 30 and the registration was cancelled about two weeks later. The Yuma County recorder’s office said Shooter registered there on May 14.

“Even if he changed his residence back to Yuma, he still does not meet the one-year residency requirement,” Backus says in court filings.

The complaint filed in Maricopa County Superior Court asks that Shooter be kept off the ballot.

Women previously accused Shooter of inappropriate sexual comments or actions. Following the release of an investigative report, he was expelled in February by an overwhelming vote of the House.

Shooter has apologized for what he called his “jarring, insensitive and demeaning” comments involving women but argued that he never sought to touch anyone or have a sexual relationship.

He’s also filed a $1.3 million claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, alleging the governor’s office targeted him and accusing House Speaker J.D. Mesnard of changing House rules on harassment to remove Shooter from his committee chairmanship and ultimately force the expulsion vote.

Other candidates seeking the Senate seat in the district are Republican incumbent Sen. Sine Kerr, a dairy farmer who was appointed to fill the seat, Republican Royce Jenkins, and Democrat Michelle Harris.

Update hourly