Campaign violation: Superior Court rules Peabody ineligible to appear on November ballot

Editor’s Note: this story has been updated to reflect that Scottsdale resident Christine Meyer Schild filed to run as an official write-in candidate for the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board on Aug. 21.

A campaign finance violation against Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board candidate Mike Peabody has ultimately rendered him unable to be on the upcoming November ballot.

On Aug. 22, Ellman Law Group LLC, on behalf of Chambers Volk — who serves as fellow SUSD candidate Jann-Michael Greenburg’s campaign chairman — filed a complaint for special action/injunctive relief in the Superior Court of Arizona against Mr. Peabody, Maricopa County School Superintendent Steve Watson, Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes and the members of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

Mike Peabody

Since this summer, there have been three individuals vying for two seats on the local school board. Following a judge’s ruling on Aug. 29 that Mr. Peabody is ineligible to run, Mr. Greenburg and Patty Beckman will appear on the ballot, while Christine Meyer Schild has filed as an official write-in candidate.

Ms. Schild, a former Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board member, says she filed to run as a write-in candidate on Aug. 21.

Mr. Volk’s complaints surround Mr. Peabody’s incomplete campaign finance document filing, and the others accepting Mr. Peabody’s nomination papers, the document states.

The Maricopa County Recorder’s Office website shows Mr. Peabody filed two second quarter campaign finance reports for 2017 and 2018 on Aug. 24 and Aug. 27. Also on Aug. 27, Mr. Peabody paid $200 toward a $940 balance, a campaign finance filing receipt shows.

At an Aug. 29 hearing, however, Mr. Peabody was told his mistake makes him unavailable to run for the Governing Board.

“The entire thing hinges on my filing,” Mr. Peabody said after the hearing. “I never collected any money — I started collecting on Aug. 15. So I never filed any paperwork saying I was collecting, I was only collecting signatures. This was a big mistake on my part. When I filed my signatures, I had over $1,000 in fines — in the eyes of Maricopa County, that’s a no-no.”

Mr. Peabody says he is disappointed in the result, and would have addressed the fines when filing his signatures had he been aware.

“I didn’t know until I was served papers,” he said. “There were emails that went out — I missed them. If the lady taking the signatures in Mesa had said ‘hey you have a fine,’ I would have gone and paid that.”

Mr. Peabody says ultimately he shouldn’t have been allowed to file in the first place, but fines in the election office didn’t translate to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.

“I’m really disappointed voters of Scottsdale don’t get the chance to vote this time, again, and the kids are at a loss this time, again,” Mr. Peabody said.

Mr. Peabody says he hasn’t decided if he will appeal the decision.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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