No state campaign-finance laws were violated in ousting political newcomer Nan Nesvig from the race for Scottsdale City Council, the city clerk has ruled.
City Clerk Carolyn Jagger determined last week that the people responsible for forcing Nesvig from the March 14 ballot were not required to form a political action committee, as the former candidate’s campaign asserted.
The ruling officially dismisses a request for further investigation.
“Nothing in the statute suggests that a person or group that files a legal action to challenge the sufficiency of a candidate’s nomination petition is thereby deemed to be a political committee. Challenging a nomination petition is not an attempt to influence how voters vote in an election,” Larry Felix, an assistant city attorney for Phoenix, wrote in a letter to Jagger.
Jagger based her ruling on Felix’s legal advice.
Nesvig withdrew from the race last month after the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office found she was 81 valid signatures short of the 1,652 required to be an official candidate. The county inspected Nesvig’s signatures in connection with a legal complaint filed Dec. 23.
Nesvig’s supporters called for an investigation after three council incumbents — Wayne Ecton, Bob Littlefield and Kevin Osterman — acknowledged their involvement in the complaint. The three are dividing the attorney’s costs while contending they did not initiate the complaint.
Instead, they say it was one or more of their supporters who challenged Nesvig’s petitions. They have refused to disclose who launched the complaint.
Arizona law states that a political action committee is any group organized “for the purpose of influencing the result of any election or to determine whether an individual will become a candidate for election . . .”
Felix, however, decided that since the law does not specifically list a group that is challenging a candidate’s signatures as a committee, it does not apply to those behind the Nesvig complaint.
Nesvig alleged Monday that Felix’s legal argument was tailored to fit what the incumbents would want, not what the law states.
“Clearly, this is not unlike other situations that we’ve seen where the city of Scottsdale buys an opinion from an outside attorney,” Nesvig said.
Jagger said she tapped a Phoenix city attorney to review the matter rather than one from Scottsdale’s legal team to avoid a conflict of interest.
The Nesvig matter has become the overarching issue in the council campaign. It has caused some residents to question the incumbents’ integrity and honesty. Seven write-in candidates have joined the race, most citing Nesvig’s ouster as central to their decision.