October 2018

Court denies challenge to VP candidate's filing

By Andie King

A lawsuit brought by Villa Park City Councilwoman Diana Fascenelli against the city, the OC Registrar of Voters and naming Mayor Robert Collacott as the real party in interest was denied on Sept. 7, three days after a hearing before Judge Craig Griffin in Orange County Superior Court.

The lawsuit, filed Aug 21, asked that Collacott be removed from the Nov. 6 ballot, alleging that the Declaration of Candidacy papers he filed were fraudulent; that his papers had blanks and did not include dates of circulation; that the papers, due on Aug. 10, were faxed in and filed by a third party without the required notarization; that his faxed papers were replaced by original papers with an original signature, filed and backdated on the next business day, Aug. 13, after the deadline.  

Mayor Collacott testified at the Sept. 4 hearing that he was out of town on Aug. 10, which is why he faxed the documents to a third party who filed them before the 5 p.m. deadline.   He came to city hall Monday morning (Aug. 13) to provide a “wet” signature and turned in the original versions of his faxed filing.  He told the court that the city employee on duty called VP’s election consultant who told him to backdate the documents.

Judge Griffin ruled that Villa Park is a “general law city” and that, in municipal elections, the elections code does not suggest papers submitted by a third party be notarized.  He found that Orange County Candidate’s Handbook, which states that notarization is necessary, is not specifically applicable to municipal elections.  Further, the Court wasaware of no authority prohibiting the filing of nomination papers bearing a facsimile signature; and that section 8065, which indicated “the elections official shall not accept for filing any nomination paper unless all blanks in the certificate are filled” is also inapplicable to municipal elections and, as Neal Kelly, Orange County registrar of voters asserted, “immaterial.”

Fascenelli has since been roundly criticized for filing what Collacott’s supporters call a “frivolous” lawsuit.  

The points she raised --whether the rules and deadlines apply to everyone, or whether one candidate is exempt, and whether certifying that a document was signed “in the county of Orange,” while in San Diego is a false statement or not -- was not considered by the court.   

“The bottom line,” Collacott said, “is that the voters will have a choice in November and my name will remain on the ballot as a candidate for re-election to Villa Park City Council.”