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Citizen Outreach Foundation Ponies Up for Appeal of Ashjian Ruling

Chuck Muth, president of Citizen Outreach Foundation, has agreed to provide the legal fees needed to file an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court over a lawsuit filed several weeks ago to disqualify Tea Party of Nevada (TPN) U.S. Senate candidate Scott Ashjian from the 2010 ballot for failing to comply with Nevada’s election law.

Last month, Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell ruled in Mr. Ashjian’s favor, suggesting he had “substantially complied” with the law and, therefore, should remain on the ballot.

“The reason we are appealing is because Judge Russell was clearly mistaken,” says Joel Hansen, attorney for Tim Fasano, the Independent American Party (IAP) candidate for the Nevada U.S. Senate race this year, in the Ashjian case. “Mr. Ashjian made a false statement on his declaration of candidacy. Under the Nevada law his name must be removed from the ballot because of his false statement.”

“For us, this is no longer about Scott Ashjian,” Muth said. “This is about a judicial ruling which declared that Mr. Ashjian ‘substantially complied’ with the law when various citizen initiatives have been thrown off the ballot by the same judge even though proponents also had clearly substantially complied with the law. We’d just like the Supreme Court to tell us whether or not compliance with Nevada Revised Statutes is like horseshoes, where close enough is good enough and, if so, just how close is close enough.”

Muth said he was specifically referring to rulings by Judge Russell in 2008 which disqualified ballot initiatives that year in which proponents had obtained far more than the required signatures but merely failed to attach a newly-required affidavit which, in fact, the Secretary of State’s website had failed to include in its online instructions for circulators.

“Those rulings, upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court, denied the citizens of Nevada an opportunity to vote on ballot initiatives over what was, at best, a technicality and where there was no suggestion whatsoever of deception or fraud being involved,” said Muth.

“On the other hand,” Muth continued, “the same judge has now ruled that voters should be allowed an opportunity to vote for Mr. Ashjian even though Mr. Ashjian, himself, admits to violating the letter of the law by filing a false declaration of candidacy. You can’t have it both ways, and we’re hoping the Supreme Court will clarify this matter of substantial compliance once and for all. Is the law the law or is close-to-the-law the law?”