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KINGMAN – The Phoenix attorney who prevailed against Kingman positions in initiative and candidate-related election lawsuits last fall has been engaged to battle the city once again in the proposed recall of Vice Mayor Travis Lingenfelter. Lawyer Roopali Desai has been retained by the political action committee working for the proposed recall has issued a demand notice to City Clerk Sydney Muhle.

 

Desai asserts that the Letter provided to recall officials on Jan. 30 includes determinations inconsistent with the state Constitution and applicable case law.

“The Letter is just the latest in a series of missteps by the City in its handling of the Lingenfelter Recall specifically, and City elections more generally,” Desai stated.

Desai’s letter said that the City provided “woefully inaccurate” information when the ouster effort was initiated last October.  Desai said Muhle incorrectly told recall leader Steve Robinson that 410 valid petition signatures were needed to advance the recall.

Desai further contends that the City has again misapplied Arizona law with the recalculation that 1,946 signatures are required. She said the determination was the result of “unabashed political pressure placed by Councilman Lingenfelter.”

Lingenfelter told Muhle in a Jan. 24 email that the signature requirement should be 1,873 rather than 410. In another email sent later the same day to Muhle and City attorney Carl Cooper, Lingenfelter insisted the number should be 1,944.

“I want to sit down and see all statue(s) cited and the formula that will ultimately be used," Lingenfelter wrote in a Jan. 25 email to Muhle and Cooper. “This is a big deal. My name will again be in the paper, the City will look foolish, and I will retain Roopali or similar election attorney to review this matter as necessary and in my best interests."

Lingenfelter asked for a meeting again in a Jan. 28 email.

“I would like to come in and discuss this," he said. “Having the city being forced to spend over $100,000 on a special election is something I will fight."

Cooper responded the same day that the number would be recalculated after some guidance form the League of Arizona Cities and Towns and application of case law embodied in Telez v. Superior Court. Two days later City officials told recall leaders the number is 1,946.

Desai's demand letter alleged improper meddling by the Vice Mayor.

“This inappropriate direct involvement with City staff should not be countenanced," Desai stated. ``And please know that despite Councilman Lingenfelter's stating in a Jan. 25, 2019 email that he would 'retain' me, as well as any subsequent insinuation that he had done so, I have not spoken with Councilman Lingenfelter or been retained by him."

Desai stated that City reliance upon Tellez v. Superior Court is ''misplaced and the actual signature count should be 1,305," the same figure Muhle cited in a Jan. 25 email to Lingenfelter.

“We note that this dispute between the City and the Committee is taking place against the backdrop of the City's recent history of unsuccessful election-based litigation," Desai said referencing decisions and directives by Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen last Sept. and Oct. that the City must allow the voters to decide Prop. 413, and that the names of primary election candidates must be placed on the general election ballot. Desai demanded that the City nullify its 1,964 determination and establish 1,305 as the minimum number of valid signatures required to advance the recall toward a possible vote.

Robinson said recall supporters will continue collecting signatures in advance of a Feb. 25 deadline. He said nearly 600 signatures are in hand but that he'd like to gather 1,000 to 1,200 more through use of advertising, paid door-to-door collection and by other means.

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