No elected official should be above the law, but one in Arizona is

Public domain image via

No elected official is above the law — not the president, not members of Congress, and not state representatives such as myself. When leaders break the rules, they must deal with the repercussions.

This system of accountability should apply to Rep. Shawnna Bolick, who lied on her nomination papers when filing to run for office. Unfortunately for Arizonans, our highest court has given her a “Get Out of Jail” free card.

As candidates for state office, we must put our “actual residence address” on our nomination papers to confirm that we live in the district we are running to represent. When Bolick, a Republican from Phoenix, completed her nomination paper and petitions to run for reelection, she listed a UPS Store mailbox as her residential address. She then signed the form, swearing that the information was true under penalty of perjury. 

In other words, she broke the law.

In an attempt to hold Bolick accountable, a voter named Judith Lohr sued to get Bolick’s name removed from the ballot. Despite the blatant disregard for the law, both the Maricopa County Superior Court and the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in Bolick’s favor.

These rulings have rewarded her for breaking the law, and muddied the waters for future cases of wrongdoing.

Bolick, who ran and lost in a different Arizona House district before winning a seat in District 20, is married to Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick. His status permits the Bolick family to keep their north Phoenix residential address private.

However, that allowance does not extend to candidates for public office.

Bolick’s office and her connections do not excuse her from following the laws everyday Arizonans abide by. We all have reasons for wanting to conceal our addresses. Members of the public have threatened me for advocating for a woman’s right to choose and my colleagues have been threatened for advocating for gun reform, yet we have all complied with the law.

Choosing to put yourself forward as a candidate for public office carries some inherent risk, but my colleagues and I have decided that the work is worth it.

Arizona officials and candidates up and down the ballot have obeyed the law when we filed our nomination petitions. Bolick did not lie because she had to, she lied because she could — and she has gotten away with it.

As we near historic lows in American trust in the government, this only undermines the public’s trust in our elected officials. Bolick has been granted permission to break the law when it is convenient for her and has done a disservice to her constituents.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Rep. Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix
Rep. Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix

Rep. Raquel Terán is a mother, wife, and community advocate who was born and raised in the border towns of Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora Mexico. She is a Democrat from District 30, which includes west Phoenix and downtown Glendale. For the last 14 years, she has been a community advocate for civil labor, immigrant, and women's reproductive rights through civic engagement and community organizing.