weather icon Clear

Chattah sues to keep Libertarian candidate off AG ballot

The Republican candidate for Nevada attorney general has filed a lawsuit claiming the Libertarian candidate in the race is not qualified to run because he’s not a licensed attorney in Nevada.

Attorney Sigal Chattah, the Republican nominee in the attorney general race, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Carson City against Libertarian opponent John Kennedy, the Nevada secretary of state’s office, and current Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

The lawsuit claims Kennedy is not qualified to run for attorney general because he is not a licensed attorney in Nevada and is not a member of the State Bar of Nevada in good standing.

“Defendant Secretary of State failed in her obligations to verify that Defendant Kennedy had in fact met the qualifications of NRS 228.010 to run for office, placing an onerous burden on Plaintiff to engage in such verification,” attorney Joey Gilbert wrote in the complaint. Gilbert was an unsuccessful candidate for governor on the Republican ticket, and is contesting the results of the primary in court.

The requirement that a candidate for attorney general be a member of the State Bar of Nevada is new for this election. In 2021, the Nevada Legislature changed the law to require that the attorney general be a lawyer. A Lyon County judge disqualified Democratic candidate Stuart Mackie from this year’s primary because Mackie is not a member of the bar.

Daniel Hooge, the general counsel for the State Bar of Nevada, said Thursday that the organization has no record of Kennedy being a member of the Bar.

Kennedy did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Thursday. Jennifer Russell, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

According to the lawsuit, Chattah filed an election complaint with the secretary of state’s office on July 26 reporting that Kennedy is not a member of the state bar. Three weeks later, the secretary of state’s office told Chattah that the deadline to object to a candidate’s qualifications was April 5, the lawsuit said.

Chattah also notified the attorney general’s office about her election complaint, but Chattah claimed the agency “also refused to take any subsequent remedial measures,” the lawsuit said.

In the lawsuit, Chattah requested a court order removing Kennedy from the election, and requested for signs to be posted at polling places informing voters that he is disqualified.

The lawsuit also requested “a referral to the Carson City District Attorney office for knowingly and willfully filling a Declaration of Candidacy containing a false statement.”

Chattah is set to face off against Kennedy and Democratic incumbent Aaron Ford in the upcoming general election. After Chattah defeated her more moderate opponent in the primary, a group of Nevada Republicans formed a “Republicans for Ford” organizing committee to endorse the incumbent attorney general.

The complaint notes that Ford won his 2018 race by about half a percentage point in a three-person race. A Libertarian candidate on the ballot would likely sap votes from Chattah, making it harder for her to win.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.