CD2 SPECIAL ELECTION

Lt. Gov. didn’t follow state law in certifying Celeste Maloy, legislature alleges

Jul 3, 2023, 3:59 PM | Updated: Jul 4, 2023, 12:36 pm

Image of the steps leading to the Utah capitol....

FILE - The Utah Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

(Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature released a letter Monday addressing the controversy surrounding Celeste Maloy’s eligibility to run as the GOP convention nominee for Congressional District 2. The letter comes just days after the state elections office said Maloy was a lawful candidate and could be placed on the ballot by the GOP.

Maloy’s voter registration status has been in question for weeks.

Days after GOP delegates elected her to the ballot to replace Rep. Chris Stewart, who she worked for, debate broke out about whether she was eligible to be placed by the GOP on the ballot.

What does the legislature say about Celeste Maloy?

The letter from the legislature said the deadline has already passed to challenge her nomination.

“It appears that there is no immediate process to challenge Ms. Maloy’s declaration of candidacy except by seeking recourse through the courts,” it reads.

Included in the letter was a timeline of Maloy’s actions from 2016, all the way up to June of this year when her voter registration status was changed to show her as an active voter three days after she declared her candidacy.

Maloy’s registration status on the day she filed

The letter also appears to signal that the legislature believes Maloy was not registered on the day she filed her candidacy, and thus, that the Lt. Gov. may have violated state law in certifying her.

On the topic of her registration, the letter reads that “in January 2023 Ms. Maloy was removed from the current voter registration list…” KSL NewsRadio previously reported Maloy was placed on a removable voter list due to moving out of state followed by not voting in two consecutive elections. The Lt. Gov. has said Maloy must “re-register” to get off of that removable list, which she did one day after the filing deadline on June 15, 2023.

Then, the letter goes on to say that the Lt. Gov.’s duties before being allowed to certify a candidate are that she must read to Maloy the statutory qualifications and require Maloy to state whether she met those requirements. But it also says that she has to follow state law regarding elections. 

 “The lieutenant governor is obligated to…’ enforce compliance by election officers with all legal requirements relating to elections including…state law relating to elections,” the letter reads.

State law says you can’t run for office in a party of which you’re not a member unless the party allows it.

House Majority Leader: Lt. Gov. has ‘duty’ to review

At least one key member of Utah’s House leadership, House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, seemed to state that more explicitly. He believes the Lt. Gov. didn’t do her duty in certifying Maloy.

“The [Lt. Gov.] also has a duty to review declarations of candidacy to verify each candidate’s eligibility under state and federal law,” he said in a statement. “That did not happen in this case.”

Schultz went on to say the Lt. Gov.’s certification of Maloy was “contrary to legislative intent.”

“Ms. Maloy’s declaration of candidacy was reviewed only for compliance with federal requirements. However, the [Lt. Gov.] is obligated to ‘enforce compliance by election officers with all legal requirements relating to elections including…state law…,” Shultz said.

No one knew of Maloy’s registration status the day she filed

Maloy filed to run for office on June 12, on that day, Maloy assumed she was a registered voter and attested to that when she filed to run. The Lt. Gov. has stated that her office discovered it “upon a routine check” after the fact. Then, they let Maloy know “as a courtesy.”

The Lt. Gov. may not actually be required to check registration status on the day a candidate files. State law says she’s required to read to Maloy the “constitutional and statutory requirements” and require Maloy “state” whether she’s met those.

But Schultz, and the letter from the legislature, argue she is also not allowed to certify a candidate if they’re not a member of the political party that they’re running for.

Lt. Gov Henderson also didn’t tell the Utah Republican Party before the convention, but did tell Maloy. At least one failed candidate, Kathleen Anderson is crying afoul that Henderson didn’t inform the party. 

Maloy was also aware of her registration status before the convention.

The GOP still hasn’t submitted Maloy’s name as of this writing. Utah’s Republican Party Chair, Robert Axson, had said he will be doing that. Lawmakers said she’ll be the candidate unless someone takes the process to court.

Lindsay Aerts contributed to this report.

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Lt. Gov. didn’t follow state law in certifying Celeste Maloy, legislature alleges