(Chuck Muth) – Tea Party of Nevada (TPN) candidate Scott Ashjian admits he filed for office before he changed his party affiliation from Republican to TPN, a violation of the Nevada Revised Statute because he made a false statement on his official declaration of candidacy. So a lawsuit to kick him off the ballot was filed by the Independent American Party (IAP) and tea party activist Debbie Landis.
Yesterday Carson City Judge James Todd Russell ruled Ashjian could stay on the ballot because he “substantially complied” with the law even though he broke it.
Political pundit Jon Ralston notes that on his Facebook page after the ruling, Ashjian wrote: “SCOTT ASHJIAN WINS THE RULING AGAINST THE INDEPENDENTS!!!!!!!!!!!! AM IN THIS RACE UNTIL THE END!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY CANNOT STOP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (Can’t you just imagine this guy wearing one of those beanies with the propeller on top?)
While I can certainly understand why this goofball was a happy camper…maybe he shouldn’t be popping the corks just yet.
Ashjian’s lawyer argued that no one had been misled by his client by filing for office before changing his registration on the same day. The judge agreed, saying that “A technical sequential filing of documents should not control, but an overall good faith attempt to comply should control.”
This is a very curious ruling, especially from this particular judge – and should the IAP appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court, there’s a decent chance it would be overturned. Here’s why.
Back in 2008, a trio of ballot initiatives were circulated, including one to require a 2/3 super-majority vote in order to approve future tax hikes which might appear as ballot initiatives. Proponents obtained WAY more valid signatures than required to quality the measures for the ballot. But the AFL-CIO sued to kick them off.
The judge on the case: James Todd Russell.
At issue was a technical failure by petition circulators to affix a newly required affidavit stating that they had personally circulated the petitions and gave signers an opportunity to read the full text of the petitions. The problem was caused by the Secretary of State’s office not updating its website to include the new legal requirements before the proponents gathered and turned in the signatures.
Now here’s the thing: No one in the lawsuit claimed there was any attempt whatsoever to mislead or defraud voters, or that not enough valid signatures had been obtained. In other words, proponents “substantially complied” with the law in a “good-faith attempt” to put the measures on the ballot despite this very minor technical deficiency.
Didn’t matter to Judge Russell. He kicked the measures off the ballot.
And yet yesterday, that same judge ruled that Scott Ashjian had substantially complied with the law even though he, himself, admitted he had broken it. So much for consistency.
In any event, proponents of the ballot initiatives appealed Judge Russell’s decision to the Supreme Court, which unanimously upheld Russell’s ruling saying, basically, the law’s the law.
So even though Judge Russell seems to have all the consistency of jello when it comes to election law compliance, perhaps the Supremes will rely on the precedent it set for itself less than two years ago and tell Mr. Ashjian that, well, the law’s the law.
As an end note, in remarks after the ruling yesterday, the delusional Mr. Ashjian said he was “100 percent sure” that he was going to beat Harry Reid in November.
However, a Las Vegas Review-Journal poll released this morning not only shows he won’t win in a 10-option field which includes Sue Lowden as the GOP nominee, he won’t even get enough votes to possibly cause her defeat. With Ashjian on the ballot, Lowden still beats Reid by 10 points. Scott Ashjian gets 2 percent of the vote. So not only is the guy not a winner, he’s not even a spoiler.
So much for politics, Mr. A. Maybe you should try out for “The Biggest Loser.”