Lawsuit filed to disqualify Celeste Maloy from CD2 race

Jul 19, 2023, 11:28 AM | Updated: Jul 31, 2023, 10:55 am

celeste maloy pictured, a lawsuit against her was heard today...

Congressional candidate Celeste Maloy speaks with the Deseret News editorial board at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 30, 2023. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A candidate who ran for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District race has filed a lawsuit asking for Celeste Maloy to be disqualified from the ballot in the race to replace Rep Chris Stewart.

Quin Denning, who was beat out by Maloy at the Republican Party convention, filed the suit in Salt Lake’s 3rd District Court alleging that Maloy wasn’t legally allowed to run because she wasn’t a registered Republican and wasn’t a resident of Utah — two requirements of the Utah Republican party to be eligible for office.

While the U.S. Constitution dictates requirements for federal candidates to run, state law says that a candidate can’t be certified if they’re not a member of that party, unless the party allows for it.

Denning’s suit claims the Lieutenant Governor’s Office didn’t follow Utah state law when they certified her. It also alleges that the Lt. Gov. “knowingly” allowed Maloy to become a candidate and didn’t tell Utah’s GOP before the convention.

“I’m not going to comment on pending litigation,” said Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson about the lawsuit.

KSL NewsRadio’s previous reporting found that Maloy was on a removable voter list.
Being on the list meant she was subject to be removed from Utah’s voter rolls, but had yet to be.
Lt. Gov. Henderson has said that being on that list has the “effect” of removing an eligible voter and that Maloy had to re-register in order to vote.
The question of whether being on the removable list counts as being registered has swirled around Maloy since winning the GOP nomination to the ballot in late June, but the matter was largely seen as decided when Henderson announced Maloy has met those legal requirements and Utah’s GOP submitted her name as their convention winner. 

Maloy and Denning speak out

Maloy tells KSL NewsRadio in a statement that the suit is “nothing more than a distraction.”

It’s a distraction from facts my opponents would rather forget: I won resoundingly at the State Convention and the Republican State Party made its decision. Utahns deserve a representative who’s focused on doing the work – not playing political games and trying to rewrite history – so that’s exactly what I intend to do. I look forward to continuing my work with consitutents on teh campaign trail who so clearly believe in my mission to build a stronger, freer, future for our nation. 

Denning said he’s suing to restore election integrity. 

“I’m not looking to change the election for me,” He said. “My whole goal is to bring election integrity and election security to light.”

In the filing, Denning claims he invested “tens of thousands of dollars” and “countless hours” on his campaign. He also says his campaign was impacted by “each and every other candidate” in the race.

Denning wasn’t eliminated at the convention, rather he chose to bow out and endorse Greg Hughes when he realized he couldn’t win. It’s not known how this might affect his standing to bring the suit. 

Will Maloy be disqualified?

KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas shared his insight about the chances of Denning’s suit being successful.
“I would say very, very slim,” he said. 
He added that these types of lawsuits are not common. The suit is asking for a ruling to be fast-tracked because of the tight election timeline. Some larger counties like Salt Lake have already printed ballots, which include Maloy’s name. 

Bruce Hough and Becky Edwards weigh in

Bruce Hough happened to be at the KSL NewsRadio studios at the time the news of the lawsuit broke.

“There’s certainly nothing that Celste did that I think was intentional to violate any law,” he said. “I think she made some mistakes, but hey — we all make mistakes and I think she deserves a little bit of grace for that.”

Becky Edwards sent a statement.

“Our campaign continues to be laser-focused on communicating Becky Edwards’ track record as one of Utah’s most effective lawmakers and her positive vision for addressing the issues that matter most to voters.”



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Lawsuit filed to disqualify Celeste Maloy from CD2 race