Lawsuit filed to remove Celeste Maloy from ballot in election to replace Stewart
Jul 19, 2023, 3:12 PM | Updated: 5:21 pm
(Ryan Sun, Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — A lawsuit has been filed to remove Celeste Maloy as a candidate to replace Utah’s Rep. Chris Stewart in the U.S. House. It claims Maloy is not eligible for office because, it says she was not a member of the Republican party and was not a resident of Utah when she filed for candidacy for the September election.
The lawsuit states that Utah law requires candidates be both residents and party members and claims Maloy was neither.
Richard Quin Denning filed the suit against Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, who oversees elections in Utah, and Maloy, asking Salt Lake’s Third Judicial District Court to remove Maloy from the ballot to represent Utah in the United States House of Representatives.
The lawsuit states it seeks to compel Henderson in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and Maloy “to comply with Utah law.” It claims the office knew of the issues with Maloy’s ineligibility and worked to bring her into compliance instead of disclosing it until the day after she was selected.
“I’m not going to comment on pending litigation,” Henderson said to KSL NewsRadio.
“Being a member of her declared political party and being a resident are both requirements under Utah law to qualify a person to run as a candidate for the congressional seat at issue. Since Maloy did not meet the statutory requirements to run for this office when she declared her candidacy, and did not meet those requirements as of the June 14, 2023 deadline, she should be disqualified as a candidate under Utah law,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges @CelesteMaloyUT wasn’t a registered Republican living in Utah so she wasn’t legally allowed to run. It claims @LGHendersonUtah “knowingly” allowed her to become a candidate, not telling the party.@kslnewsradio #utpolhttps://t.co/nBJJE7VM0q
— Lindsay Aerts (@LindsayOnAir) July 19, 2023
Maloy, former chief legal counsel for Stewart, won a surprise victory in Utah’s Republican Party’s special convention but her eligibility was called into question. She didn’t vote in Utah in 2020 or 2022 elections. She said she didn’t vote because she didn’t want her absentee ballot to be flagged as fraudulent.
Utah’s voter registration database will make a voter inactive if they don’t vote in two federal elections in a row.
The 17 page lawsuit — available at the end of the story — said the lieutenant governor’s office knew the legal requirements under Utah law for candidates and was aware that Maloy didn’t meet them but didn’t disqualify her and didn’t reveal the information until after she won the GOP nomination.
“Under Utah law Maloy is not eligible to be a candidate and Henderson should be ordered to not put Maloy on the ballot or consider Maloy as a candidate moving forward,” the lawsuit states. It seeks immediate relief with ballot deadlines approaching.
Maloy has not responded to KSL NewsRadio’s request for comment on the suit. Denning told KSL 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.”
The lawsuit claims Maloy lived exclusively in Virginia from 2019 through 2023 while working for Stewart and filed income tax returns in the last four years in Virginia and used the address of a relative when she declared her candidacy.
It states she was removed from voter registration in January 2023, as required by Utah code, when she did not respond to a mailing of a voting notice.
“Maloy was not a member of the Utah GOP at the time she filed her declaration of candidacy on June 12, 2023 because she was at the time not registered with the Party to vote,” the lawsuit states.
Utah Republican Party Chair Robert Axson submitted Maloy’s name as the Republican convention winner. 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.
Maloy previously confirmed to KSL NewsRadio the Utah address is her sister’s — because she said 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].”
Stewart announced he will step away from his seat in September.