CARSON CITY -- The Independent American Party decided Thursday to appeal to the state Supreme Court a lower court judge's decision that kept Scott Ashjian's name on the ballot as the Tea Party of Nevada candidate for U.S. Senate.
Joel Hansen, lawyer for Tim Fasano, the IAP candidate for the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, said Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell was wrong when he ruled April 14 that Ashjian could run, even though he was a registered Republican when he filed for the office.
"The law in Nevada clearly states if a false statement is made in a declaration of candidacy, then that candidate's name must be removed from the ballot," said Hansen, the IAP candidate for attorney general.
Russell ruled that Ashjian, a Las Vegas businessman, substantially complied with state election laws and could run for the Senate.
"A technical sequential filing of documents should not control" the decision, stated Russell, noting Ashjian was a Tea Party of Nevada registered voter by the end of the day on which he filed his candidacy.
Within three hours after filing in the secretary of state's office in Carson City, Ashjian returned to Las Vegas and changed his registration from Republican to the Tea Party of Nevada.
The newly created party is not affiliated with the Tea Party organization, according to representatives of that movement who have said it is not a political party but a political movement.
Hansen said Thursday there is no leeway in election laws to permit a registered voter from one party to file to run as a candidate for another party.
"If you are going to get divorced, you first divorce your current wife and then you get married to another one later," Hansen said. "He committed political bigamy."
Ashjian said the IAP is wasting money on the appeal. He said his lawyer, Allen Lichtenstein, found at least five other incidents in court cases where a candidate was allowed to run as long as he substantially complied with election law.
In previous interviews, Ashjian has stated he didn't try to deceive anyone and the election ballot for November has not even been printed.
Ashjian said he suspected supporters of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sue Lowden -- but not Lowden herself -- are funding the IAP appeal, which he estimated would cost $20,000. They figure if Lowden and his name appear on the general election ballot, then a lot of Republicans will vote for him, he said.
"I will pick up a large percentage of votes on both sides (Republican and Democrat) and those in the middle," Asjian said.
While Ashjian is the Tea Party of Nevada candidate, Debbie Landis of the Anger is Brewing organization joined the lawsuit against him.
She has organized several Tea Party events in Nevada and has said Ashjian is not her choice and that he does not show up at Tea Party events.
Nonetheless, a group of Ashjian supporters in January filed more than the required 250 signatures to create the Tea Party of Nevada.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at email@example.com or 775-687-3901.