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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Former legislative candidate John Ley faces felony fraud charges in 2022 election case

Camas resident to appear in court on Nov. 28

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: November 19, 2023, 2:23pm

Former legislative candidate John Ley of Camas is facing felony elections fraud charges after claiming he lived in Battle Ground and Hazel Dell, according to court filings.

Ley, who made those claims in 2022 during an unsuccessful bid to run in the 18th Legislative District, was ordered to appear before Superior Court Judge David Gregerson on Nov. 28 to respond to allegations of providing false information for voter registration and providing false information on a declaration of candidacy.

The prosecuting attorney’s office filed the allegations on Nov. 1 following an investigation by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. They are considered Class C felonies, punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 or five years in jail.

Ley, a Republican, filed to run for the 18th Legislative District Position 2 seat. Approximately one month before filing, Ley changed the address on his voter registration from his Fremont Street home in Camas, which is in the 17th District, to a Battle Ground address in the 18th District.

Ley was found to be ineligible for the office following a voter registration challenge filed by Vancouver resident Carolyn Crain.

At a hearing on the challenge, Ley said he didn’t live in Battle Ground in a traditional sense but was renting a room in a home owned by friends Philip and Eileen Haggerty. Ley said he was paying $1 per month and was free to stay there whenever he wanted.

County Auditor Greg Kimsey issued a ruling on the challenge in July 2022, stating there was “clear and compelling” evidence in support of Crain’s challenge, and that Ley “did not state, or otherwise provide evidence, that he resides at the Battle Ground location.”

Prior to the hearing, Ley changed the address on his voter registration again — this time to an apartment on Hazel Dell Avenue, which is also in the 18th District.

Public records show that address is currently listed on Ley’s voter registration. Kimsey confirmed a ballot for the Nov. 8 general election was sent to Ley at the Hazel Dell Avenue address, and that ballot was received and processed.

Kimsey turned the matter over to the sheriff’s office to investigate, with any decision to pursue charges made by the prosecuting attorney’s office.

A probable cause statement signed by sheriff’s Sgt. Jayson Camp shows phone records for Ley were analyzed during the investigation. According to the statement, phone records for April 1 through May 17 showed, “John Ley’s cellphone was active hear (his) residence in Camas, Washington, nearly every day.”

In the statement, Camp said he inspected the records for any activity near the Battle Ground address and found no evidence that Ley’s cellphone was ever located near the home during the entire date range.

“I determined it was highly unlikely that John Ley had ever stayed the night in that location during that time frame, and ultimately, I determined beyond a reasonable doubt that John Ley did not live or reside at that address during that time,” Camp wrote.

Camp also said in the probable cause statement that it was “unlikely that John Ley had ever actually even been to the Battle Ground address between the time he claimed to have entered into a rental agreement and the date he filed his declaration of candidacy.”

One issue the court will have to decide is whether Ley knowingly lied when he changed his voter registration and filed to run for office.

“As a result of my investigation, I do not believe John Ley intentionally lied; rather, he negligently and recklessly perjured himself by attempting to create a loophole in order to run for an office for which he was not legally eligible under Washington state law,” Camp wrote.

Ley could not be reached for comment.

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