(Update) Lawsuit to challenge the initiative to bankrupt the City of Tucson

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The hearing of the lawsuit to challenge the sufficiency of the initiative petitions filed by the
Committee for Sustainable Retirement, the local front group for ballot
initiative activist Paul Jacob and the
Liberty Initiative Fund with additional financial support from the
National Taxpayers Union, (Case No. 20134029) will continue in front of Judge James E. Marner on Tuesday, August 6 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 808 of the Pima County Superior Court.

The complaint alleged that 10,222 signatures verified by the City Clerk
are invalid because of petition circulators with criminal records whose civil rights were not restored, or out-of-state circulators not registred with the Arizona Secretary of Stgate, leaving the intitiative proponents 5,284
signatures short of the 12,730 valid signatures required to be placed on
the ballot. Lawsuit to challenge the initiative to bankrupt the City of Tucson.

The Arizona Daily Star reported on the first day of the hearing on Saturday, Signatures
are focus in Tucson city pension suit
:

Two city employees filed a lawsuit last week alleging that ineligible
felons and out-of-state circulators collected thousands of signatures
for the Committee for Sustainable Retirement Benefits.

Attorneys
for the two sides spent a portion of the day Friday debating whether it
was the responsibility of the committee to prove its signatures are
legitimate, or whether the law requires the challengers to prove they
are invalid.

The employees are asking the judge to disqualify around 10,000 signatures they assert were improperly collected or modified.

If those signatures are booted, it would place the measure far below the 12,730 signatures required for the November ballot.

The
first challenge for both attorneys on Friday was how to convince Marner
the burden of proof is the responsibility of the other side.

Roopali
Desai, an attorney for the plaintiffs, argued rules regarding felons
and other types of voter fraud were established to protect voters and
need to be upheld.

"It's not just technical (defects)," Desai said
during opening statements. The rules state these violations are "fatal
to a signature."

Desai said the challengers hired private
investigators to check into the petition circulators' pasts, which
uncovered multiple felonies committed in multiple states.

She said
her clients believe the circulators were ineligible, and it's up to the
committee's lawyer to prove the circulators had their rights restored.

The committee's attorney said if challengers make the allegation, it's up to them to provide the evidence.

Every
state has different rules about how they restore a felon's right to
vote, said attorney Lisa Hauser, so the plaintiffs have the obligation
to prove there hasn't been a restoration.

Sorry lady, but no. If I hire a political consultant to run an initiative petition drive, I expect that the consultant will do due dilgence  in hiring only qualified petition circulators to guard against precisely the defects alleged in this case. The burden is on the party collecting signatures to show that their petition circulators were qualified. Otherwise, there is no incentive, and no accountability for these political consultants to do any due diligence at all. They would be free to hire criminals and people on probation for all they care. (The claim that Peter Zimmerman should be worried about is the one from his clients for pissing away their money if this intiative is disqualified).

So what was the evidence?

Don
Vogel, a private investigator hired by the plaintiffs' attorneys,
testified he checked out the felonies and couldn't locate any court
record or other document reflecting rights had been restored.

Vogel also stated he had trouble verifying local addresses for the alleged out-of-town circulators.

One
person listed two Phoenix addresses for his residence, Vogel said. The
first was an apartment complex where there wasn't any record the person
had ever lived there.

The second was just a telephone pole with house numbers on it.

* * *

[Hauser] said states where some of the felonies occurred, like California,
Ohio and Oregon, had laws that granted rights to felons as long as they
completed their sentences or weren't currently incarcerated or on
parole.

Vogel said he wasn't aware of the rules in other states.

A
parade of other witnesses, including a handwriting expert and City
Clerk Roger Randolph, resulted in more time being used than what was
originally allotted for the anticipated one-day hearing.

Day two of the hearing continues on Tuesday.

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