Celeste Maloy addresses questions about her residency and voting record

Jun 26, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: Jun 28, 2023, 6:39 am

Utah Congressional 2nd District candidate Celeste Maloy, center, 
won the Utah GOP nomination in th...

Utah Congressional 2nd District candidate Celeste Maloy, center, won the Utah GOP nomination in the race for the 2nd Congressional District during the Utah Republican Convention on Saturday, June 24, 2023 at Delta High School. Photo credit: Lindsay Aerts/KSL NewsRadio.

SALT LAKE CITY — Celeste Maloy says she is a registered Republican in Utah and has an explanation as to why she didn’t vote in the state for two elections in a row.

Utah’s Republican Party Chair Robert Axson also confirms he will submit her name as Utah’s Republican convention winner. This comes after some delegates and failed candidates questioned her eligibility to be placed by the party on the special election ballot.

Utah GOP delegates elected Maloy Saturday to be the party’s convention nominee to replace Congressman Chris Stewart in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District. Maloy has been employed by Stewart’s office as chief legal counsel.

Other Republicans may still qualify via gathering signatures. 

KSL NewsRadio obtained texts that show delegates — including some failed candidates — reached out to Axson, questioning Maloy’s background whether she was registered as a Republican, her voting record and her residency.

“Due to her failure to vote in the 2020 and 2022 elections, [Maloy] is not a registered Republican in the state,” one unknown texter alleges. “Her registration lapsed, per Utah law, due to her voter inactivity.”

Maloy confirmed to KSL NewsRadio she did not vote in Utah in 2020 or 2022. She explained that it was an effort to protect her boss, Stewart.

“I was working in [Washington DC] and there was so much concern about voter fraud and those elections and I was working for a politician. I didn’t want my absentee ballot from out of state to get flagged as a fraudulent vote. I didn’t want my boss to be answering any questions about my vote.”

Maloy went on to say she didn’t think her one vote was worth having anyone question the validity of her ballot.    

Utah’s voter registration database will make a voter inactive if they don’t vote in two federal elections in a row.

“I re-registered this year, I didn’t realize it became inactive,” Maloy said adding that as soon as she found out, she re-registered in Iron County.

Maloy re-registered as Republican in Utah on June 15, Iron County records show, three days after filing her official candidate paperwork with the Lieutenant Governor’s office June 12. State law only requires that she “state” to the Lieutenant Governor’s office that she is a member of the Republican party. At the time, Maloy believed she was.

Questions remain about whether, on the day Maloy declared her candidacy, she was a Republican living in Utah. If she had been removed from Utah’s voter rolls for inactivity and not just been placed on an “inactive” voter list, then she wouldn’t have been affiliated with Utah’s Republican party even if she believed she was.

State law says an individual “may not file a declaration of candidacy for a registered political party of which the individual is not a member,” except if that party’s bylaws allow it.

Axson tells KSL NewsRadio and the group, via text, that at the time Maloy filled required paperwork with the party to run for the seat, on July 16, she was a registered Republican.  

Does Celeste Maloy live in the district?

Maloy touted living in the district as a winning point for her to earn the nomination as she campaigned with delegates. It became a deciding factor in her convention victory. 

The group also questioned whether Maloy does indeed live in the 2nd Congressional District. They claimed her candidate filing lists her sister’s house.

Maloy confirmed the address is her sister’s — because she lives there.

“That’s where I live,” she said. “I don’t know what kind of wages people think you make as a staffer, but I did not have the funds to maintain a house in both [Utah and DC].”

Maloy added that when she’s in Utah, she lives with her sister and she’s “maintained that as her permanent address.” 

Draw a name out of a hat

On the text thread, the delegate group wanted Axson to confirm all this, and “draw a name out of a hat” if Maloy wasn’t eligible.

“I would support you drawing a name out of [a] hat at this point, (televised of course),” the initial text to Axson reads. “But only after ensuring that every name put into that hat also met the criteria for running as a candidate through the UTGOP.” 

Axson told the group that they didn’t have standing to raise these eligibility questions after the convention.

“The time where a point of order could have been raised about these questions would have been prior to the start of the convention,” he writes. He also tells the group he will be submitting her name to the Lieutenant Governor’s office.

Axson has until July 5 to do that.

“While I will not be waiting until the fifth to do so, I will also not be submitting it today,” he wrote.

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Celeste Maloy addresses questions about her residency and voting record