Members of the Scottsdale City Council verbally rebuked three council incumbents Tuesday night for obscuring who drove challenger Nan Nesvig from the ballot, but couldn’t legally censure them.
“The issue is their conduct, the possibility of deceit,” Councilman Jim Lane said.
“Who challenged the petitions? Who’s the man behind the mask?”
Councilwoman Betty Drake asked. “The problem has been nobody fessed up.”
At issue was a complaint filed against political newcomer Nan Nesvig alleging she lacked a sufficient number of valid signatures to become a council candidate on the March 14 ballot. When the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office investigated, they found her 81 signatures short.
Councilmen Wayne Ecton, Bob Littlefield and Kevin Osterman said they funded the legal action, but it was their supporters — without their knowledge — who launched it.
However, none acknowledged involvement until Nesvig’s campaign called for a city investigation.
Tuesday night, the council considered a petition filed by Nesvig’s supporters that asked that the three councilmen be officially condemned.
Andrew J. McGuire, an outside attorney representing the city, advised the council that neither the City Charter nor state law allow it to censure members. City Attorney Deborah Robberson recused herself.
Councilman Ron McCullagh argued that the council needed to earn the public’s trust. “The petition before us represents a serious setback,” he said.
Ecton questioned if McCullagh meant that voters should consider the three councilmen’s conduct in the Nesvig complaint before marking their ballots.
McCullagh answered: “No, I said the voters will take into consideration what happened here.”
Nesvig’s campaign requested a city investigation into whether state campaign finance laws were violated by those behind the complaint nearly two weeks ago, but has yet to receive an answer. The former candidate said she questions whether the incumbents’ supporters illegally operated as a political action committee without registering.
City Clerk Carolyn Jagger said she has pressed the attorney’s office for legal advice so she can rule on how to proceed, but has yet to receive direction.
Nesvig has requested that an outside attorney be hired.