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We Build Alaska

Investigation finds House candidate Jennie Armstrong ineligible to hold legislative office

Jennie Armstrong, a Democrat running for the open West Anchorage House seat, is not eligible to hold legislative office in Alaska, according to an investigation by the Alaska Landmine. The investigation found she lacked the constitutionally-required minimum three years of residency in the state when she registered to be a candidate. Article II, Section 2 of the Alaska Constitution states:

A member of the legislature shall be a qualified voter who has been a resident of Alaska for at least three years and of the district from which elected for at least one year, immediately preceding his filing for office. A senator shall be at least twenty-five years of age and a representative at least twenty-one years of age.

This provision’s reference to “immediately preceding his filing for office” means the individual must be a resident at least three years prior to the date they file to be a candidate. A candidate must live in the district they are running in for at least one year before filing for office and be a resident of Alaska for at least three years before filing for office, according to the Alaska Constitution. Armstrong, a relatively recent transplant from New Orleans, doesn’t appear to have met the residency requirements before she registered as a candidate.

Armstrong filed to run for the House on May 28, 2022. The deadline to file for office was June 1, 2022. In her official candidate statement, Armstrong states she has been a resident of Alaska since 2019.

Determining residency for the purpose of running for office is defined by statute. According to Alaska statute, a person becomes a resident when they come to Alaska with the intention of living here permanently. Residency is not established by official actions like obtaining a drivers’ license or registering to vote. Alaska Statute 15.05.020(3) states:

“A change of residence is made only by the act of removal joined with the intent to remain in another place.  There can only be one residence.”

Thus, in order for Armstrong to meet the Alaska Constitution’s requirement in Article II, Section 2, she would have had to come to Alaska with intent to stay permanently on or before May 28, 2019. But according to a June 13, 2019 Instagram post, she did not move to Alaska until after June 1, 2019. In that post, Armstrong says, “last weekend, I moved to Alaska.” That would have been the weekend of June 8, 2019 – eleven days less than the constitutionally required three years from when she filed on May 28, 2022.

Even if Armstrong had filed on the deadline of June 1, she would still be ineligible based on her own statements about when she moved to Alaska. In May 2019, Armstrong was in Alaska in what she repeatedly referred to in a series of Instagram posts as a pre-planned “trip” to visit her now-husband. But she clearly states she moved to Alaska on the weekend of June 8, 2019.

After she moved to Alaska in June 2019, she registered to vote and filed business licenses with the state. According to voting records, Armstrong first registered to vote in Alaska on August 26, 2019. She filed for business licenses for Wild Awake Creative and Wild Awake Publishing on June 30, 2019 and July 24, 2019, respectively.

Candidates are required to fill out a declaration of candidacy form when they file for office. The form asks for the month, day, and year the candidate has been an Alaska resident. The Landmine submitted a records request to the Division of Elections seeking Armstrong’s declaration of candidacy. This story will be updated when the document is received.

Armstrong is running for the open West Anchorage House seat against Republican Liz Vazquez, a former one-term representative. The seat is open because Representative Matt Claman (D – Anchorage) is running for the State Senate and Representative Sara Rasmussen (R – Anchorage) – who was paired with Claman during redistricting – is not running for re-election. Two other candidates for the seat withdrew after the primary, leaving a head-to-head match between Armstrong and Vazquez.

The deadline to send eligibility complaints to the Division of Elections was June 11. Armstrong ran in the primary and ballots for the general election have been already printed. However, her candidacy presents a clear constitutional problem. It’s not clear whether or how the Division of Elections will act on this revelation. Because the situation presents a constitutional question, it’s possible that the issue of Armstrong’s ineligibility will be taken up by the courts.

An email to Jennie Armstrong requesting a comment has not been answered. The story will be updated if she provides a comment.

Update: After this story was published, Armstrong provided the following comment, “I met my husband in January 2019. At the end of a road trip we took in Alaska in May 2019, we decided I would stay in Alaska and I moved in with him. My residency and eligibility to run for State House was certified by the Division of Elections.”

Update: The article has been updated to include a series of 13 Instagram posts from Armstrong about her May 2019 trip to Alaska. In the posts she makes several references to leaving Alaska. No where did she say she decided to move to Alaska during the trip. The only time she mentions moving to Alaska is the last post, which indicates her residency was established when she came back on June 8, 2019.

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Dan
1 month ago

It does seem that she was not eligible yet when she declared. I guess I don’t really understand why the Landmine would have us take this breach of eligibility by 5 days or so so seriously while completely dismissing Eastmans clear ineligibility – by the same constitution. My take – these things should be ultimately decided by the voters. It is appropriate for a blog to point out that Armstrong arrived 6 days late, or Eastman pays dues to to The Oathkeepers or Tshibaka fished illegally or Al Gross lives in California – but ultimately it would be anti-Democratic for… Read more »

Akwhitty
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

The reason is the landmine did an investigation. This is what makes this blog , thier investigations. Unlike the local fish rap the reports their slant.
Thank you Jeff. Send her packing ,she is not eligible.

Dan
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

Reading the updayed instagram posts, I’mall the more confused by the “investigation”. You have a photo-journal of a trip in May. The end of the photo journal includes the big reveal that she moved in early June. What date do you honestly think she decided to stay in Alaska. It would be moderately surprising to find out that the decision to remain was not made during the May trip. Which means the “intent to remain indefinantly” occured soon enough. So, you need to concentrate on the other half. When did she cease being a resident of Louisiana? “I dunno” seems… Read more »

Dan
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

I see zero rrason to doubt that on May 25 (for example), she was both present in Alaska and intended to reside here indefinately. That’s more likely the case than not, right?

James
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

Jeff is too stupid to understand the difference between a declaration of candidacy and actual filing. the division of elections already signed off on her eligibility, he’s just trying to generate traffic to his garbage blog so he can get more ad revenue.

Lyn Franks
1 month ago

In 2000, when I first ran against David Nelson, I found that he did not live in HD 15 for a full year before signing a letter of intent. My campaign noticed this much too late into the race as we were nearing the General Election. Evidently, you must catch this issue within a week or two after a letter of intent is filed, otherwise, it no longer matters. I suppose that this is kind of like landing on someone’s property in a Monopoly game. If the owner doesn’t say something and the dice is rolled, then you may stay… Read more »

Spencer Sandow
1 month ago

Honestly I normally love this reporting but I’m dissapointed in this article. It seems to be based off of conjecture from personal public social media accounts which we all know are not a reliable source of information, especially with the timeline. I plan to keep supporting but do better next time

Areal Bilk
1 month ago

Looks like Jeff found a new woman to harass.

George Schmidt
1 month ago

The thing I find to be most interesting about this woman is that she is married with kids but proudly proclaims that she will be the first openly LGBT+ legislator in Alaska. Apparently she is bi-sexual, so I guess we should assume that when she cheats on her husband it could very well be with another woman.

Spencer Sandow
1 month ago
Reply to  George Schmidt

What a classic, man scared of a woman’s sexuality comment…. Sounds like this one hit close to home George

Lynn Willis
1 month ago

Regarding violations of the Constitution, you might have mentioned Eastman. You write: “However, her candidacy presents a clear constitutional problem.” Understand that now, In the age of Trump, any argument based on the Constitution or on any law is the weakest argument you can offer. Nobody cares about that. Money to purchase all the political influence, justice, and free speech you can afford is all that matters in American (and especially Alaskan) politics.

Landmine Commenter
1 month ago

Jeff:

Have you verified the law on this?

Specifically:

Does the clause of “immediately preceding his filing for office” modify BOTH the three year AK requirement AND the one year district requirement?

Or is it possible that the clause of “immediately preceding his filing for office” only modifies the one year district requirement?

If it is the former, do you have anything showing this? It seems important for the article.

If it is the latter, does that change things?

Landline Commenter
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Landfield

This is not at all responsive to the questions.

Dan
1 month ago

Article 2 of our constitition makes ot clear that three years residency prior to filing is required. The comma is unambiguous.

A member of the legislature shall be a qualified voter who has been a resident of Alaska for at least three years and of the district from which elected for at least one year, immediately preceding his filing for office. A senator shall be at least twenty-five years of age and a representative at least twenty-one years of age.

Landline Commenter
1 month ago
Reply to  Dan

You basically just said that a comma is unambiguous because it is unambiguous.

Clark
1 month ago

Haha. Such a long-winded nothing burger. They clearly state the definitions of the statutes. It clearly says that you can become a resident once you arrive here and have the intent to live here permanently. Then they clearly state that she came to Alaska to be with her husband BEFORE she finished moving. Any rational person could reasonably conclude that her statutory residency began when she came to be with her husband and decided that she would move here permanently. The statute does not require that she had to have announced that at the time. Besides, the section establishing the… Read more »

Shelia
1 month ago

Now that the great Scott Kendall of Murkowski and Walker fame has joined the melee on the side of Ms. Armstrong, I expect the investigation to be concluded in her favor, no matter what. She is a democrat, after all, and with Mr. Kendall’s great prowess, there should be no doubt of the outcome being in her favor. lol.