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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Recent move keeps candidate John Ley’s bid for Legislature alive

He changes address to Hazel Dell days before auditor rules his Battle Ground ‘residence’ invalid

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: July 8, 2022, 3:26pm

Republican candidate John Ley’s bid for the 18th Legislative District may not be over.

Despite a ruling Friday by Auditor Greg Kimsey that Ley does not live at the Battle Ground address Ley listed on his voter registration and candidate filing forms, Ley’s name may still be on the August primary ballot.

According to Kimsey, Ley changed his voter registration address to a Hazel Dell Avenue apartment on July 4. Like the previous address in Battle Ground, the Hazel Dell Avenue address also lies within the 18th Legislative District.

In his ruling on the voter registration challenge filed by fellow Republican Carolyn Crain, Kimsey wrote there was “clear and compelling” evidence in support of Crain’s challenge. Crain filed the challenge to Ley’s voter registration on May 26, a week after Ley filed to run for the 18th District, Position 2 seat. In her challenge, Crain claimed Ley still resided at his Fremont Street home in Camas, which is in the 17th Legislative District.

Kimsey wrote in his ruling that state law defines a “residence” for the purpose of registering and voting to mean a person’s permanent address where he or she physically resides and maintains as his or her abode. Kimsey said Ley “did not state, or otherwise provide evidence, that he resides at the Battle Ground location.”

As for a verbal agreement between Ley and Phillip and Eileen Haggerty, who own the Battle Ground home in which Ley rented a bedroom for $1 per month, Kimsey said the affidavit from Phillip Haggerty “does not state Mr. Ley resides at that location,” and that “his rental payment of $1 per month is evidence that Mr. Ley’s arrangement with Mr. and Mrs. Haggerty is not that of a residential lease.”  Kimsey also said the $1 per month rate was significantly below market value and was further evidence of a relationship other than landlord and tenant.

In an interview Friday, Kimsey said it’s possible another voter could challenge this new address.

“It’s hard to think that a voter registration challenge submitted today could be completed before Aug. 2 but it’s possible,” Kimsey said. “It would be a very tight timeline.”

Kimsey said candidates can change their residential address after filing week as long as the new address is in the same voting district. He said that so far, no one has contacted him about filing a further challenge.

Crain said she believes she doesn’t need to file another challenge and that Kimsey’s ruling should be enough to disqualify Ley from running. She said state law requires candidates, at the time of filing, to be “properly registered to vote in the geographic area represented by the office.”

“Technically, under the law, he should not be on the primary ballot,” Crain said.

Crain said she would be following up with Kimsey to see if the auditor will be removing Ley’s name from the ballot.

However, Kimsey said his ruling was only on the voter registration challenge and not Ley’s eligibility for candidacy. He said that decision will most like likely come from a court.

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Kimsey said that under state law, alleged wrongful placement of a person’s name on a primary ballot requires an affidavit be filed with the appropriate court no later than two days after the close of candidate filing. Also, for the general election, an affidavit must be filed with the court no later than three days after certification of the primary.

“My gut says he expects me to go to court,” Crain said, adding she doesn’t want to wait until after the August primary or November general elections to resolve the issue.

Crain said she filed the challenge because she wants to make sure all the candidates are playing on a level field.

“We are a republic, and by such we need to have the legal right to representation of ourselves, by persons that dwell in our district under the law,” Crain said. “That’s the purpose of this, to protect the foundational structure of what is our government.”

John Ley did not return calls for comment.