Former 18th District legislative candidate John Ley is under investigation by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for perjury, according to newly filed court records.
The sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant for Ley’s cellphone records, including calls, text messages and GPS information, for April 1 through May 17.
At issue is whether Ley knowingly lied about his address when he submitted a Declaration of Candidacy through the Washington Secretary of State’s website when he filed for the Position 2 office May 17. All candidates are required to submit the declaration and attest they are eligible to serve in the office they are running for.
According to the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant, county Auditor Greg Kimsey emailed the sheriff’s office July 26 stating, “It has been suggested to me that Mr. Ley is guilty of perjury and that law enforcement should be made aware of this situation.”
The affidavit and return of search warrant were filed Friday in Clark County Superior Court.
Information provided by the Secretary of State’s office included in the affidavit shows Ley listed his address as 2628 N.E. Seventh Drive in Battle Ground, which is in the 18th District.
In requesting the search warrant Aug. 5, sheriff’s Sgt. Jayson Camp stated he believed Ley had listed an address on his voter registration, which was not his residence “for the purpose of declaring candidacy as a representative of a district for which he was not a resident” and that Ley had “perjured himself upon affirming the Declaration of Candidacy oath.”
Ley did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
Charlie Boisner, communications director for the Secretary of State’s office, said the decision on whether to file charges against Ley will be up to the county prosecuting attorney’s office.
Neither Kimsey nor the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office returned calls for comment Tuesday.
Even though the office Ley filed to run for is a state level position, pursuing perjury charges would not be up to the state Attorney General’s Office unless asked to step in.
“Our office does not have original criminal jurisdiction. We only handle criminal prosecutions where we receive and accept a referral from a county prosecutor or the governor,” Communications Director Brionna Aho said.
Boisner said, ultimately, it’s up to candidates to be truthful when declaring their candidacy but anyone can challenge a candidate’s eligibility. Challenging a candidate’s eligibility puts “in motion the process to either … take it to court to issue a court order to remove them from the ballot or the court determines the individual is eligible and will remain on the ballot,” Boisner said.
Ley was found to be ineligible for the office following a voter registration challenge filed by Vancouver resident Carolyn Crain. In her challenge, Crain claimed Ley was still living at his Camas home in the 17th District and not at the Battle Ground address listed on Ley’s voter registration, which Ley changed in April.
During a June 28 hearing on the challenge, Ley said he did not live in Battle Ground in a traditional sense but was renting a room in Philip and Eileen Haggerty’s home, paying $1 per month, and was free to stay in the home whenever he wanted.
In an attempt to verify Ley’s address, Crain said she sent letters with “return service requested” to all of Ley’s known addresses, searched local phone directories and county property records, and visited Ley’s Battle Ground address. Crain said none of the Battle Ground residents she spoke with had ever seen him at the home.
In a July 8 ruling, Kimsey said there was “clear and compelling” evidence in support of Crain’s challenge, and Ley “did not state, or otherwise provide evidence, that he resides at the Battle Ground location.” However, Kimsey did not weigh in on whether Ley’s name could still appear on the August primary ballot, adding that was a decision that would likely have to be made in court.
Within days, Crain and fellow Vancouver resident Penny Ross filed suit against the county to stop Ley’s name from appearing on the August primary ballot. Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson denied a request for a temporary restraining order. But he later ruled Ley was ineligible for the office and that votes cast for Ley could not be used to determine the top two candidates in the primary.
Boisner said the challenge to Ley’s eligibility and later court ruling shows the process is working as it is designed to.
In Washington, perjury is a class C felony. If convicted, Ley could face a maximum fine of $10,000 or five years in jail.