No state or local agency can disqualify City Councilman Robert Farrell from running for the 48th Assembly District seat, even if allegations that he lied about where he lives in order to be legally eligible for the race are true, officials said Thursday.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office, however, is reviewing the matter to determine if Farrell should be prosecuted for perjury.
Barring such prosecution, his candidacy can only be challenged by the Legislature, and then only if he wins the Democratic primary election next Tuesday and the general election for the Assembly seat in November, said Melissa Warren, spokeswoman for the California Secretary of State.
"The Legislature has the sole authority to contest nominees for legislative office," said Warren. "If the person whose qualifications are being called into question wins the primary and is elected in November, it's the Legislature's prerogative to seat them or not seat them."
Marguerite Archie-Hudson, Farrell's chief primary opponent for the seat being vacated by Maxine Waters, earlier this week filed a formal complaint against Farrell with the secretary of state, accusing Farrell of perjury in his listing of his residency and demanding his ouster from the campaign.
Archie-Hudson was joined at a news conference by Richard and Sheila Pegues, who say they own and live in the house at 1100 W. 84th Street that Farrell lists as his address in voter records. Those records are used to certify a candidate's residency.
The Pegueses contend that Farrell began the process of buying their home in February, but has since allowed a 60-day agreement on the deal to expire. Shortly after he made an offer to buy the yellow-stucco, three-bedroom home, they said, he began having his mail sent to the home without their permission.
Farrell acknowledged that the agreement expired in April, but insists that he has "a valid escrow" on the house. Despite the Pegueses' contention to the contrary, he also insists he had their permission to have his mail sent to their home.
He would not say where he is currently residing.
Roger Gunson, the deputy district attorney who specializes in election matters for Los Angeles County, said his office is reviewing the Farrell case based on information from news reports. Gunson said falsifying voter registration records "can be perjury."
California law requires that candidates for Assembly seats live in the district they are seeking to represent at the time nomination papers are issued.
Upon learning that only the Legislature can move against a candidate who falsifies an address, Archie-Hudson Thursday called on the residents of the 48th District to determine the matter.
"The residents of the district do have the authority to disqualify Farrell by not voting for him," Archie-Hudson said. "They can make that determination on June 5."
Farrell could not be reached for comment.
Questions about exactly where Farrell lives arose two years ago during an unsuccessful recall effort against him. Farrell's foes contended he no longer resided within his council district, but he denied that allegation. Farrell has served on the council since 1974.