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Local Republicans asked a court this morning to declare At-Large Councilmember-Elect Michael A. Brown ineligible to take office.

The petition to the D.C. Court of Appeals follows a decision by the Board of Elections and Ethics last Monday to certify Brown’s victory. The D.C Republican Committee had sent a letter to the board asking that Brown’s victory not be certified on the grounds that despite running as an independent, he’s actually a Democrat. The board rejected that argument.

It’s unclear how quickly a decision will be made, though D.C. GOP executive director Paul Craney says his group has filed will file a motion to expedite, seeing as Brown is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 2.

UPDATE, 3 P.M.: D.C. GOP lawyer Charles Spies, in a conference call with reporters, says he expects to file a legal argument in the coming weeks. That reasoning will dwell on the definition of “affiliation” with respect to the Home Rule Act, which holds that no more than three of five councilmembers elected at-large can be “affiliated” with the same party.

Brown, he says, was within his rights to change his party registration from Democratic to no party, but he ran afoul of the law when he started putting the word “Democrat” on his campaign materials. The standard, Spies says, is whether “on Election Day, is the candidate affiliated with a particular political party?”

Spies says there’s no doubt in his mind Brown was running as a Democrat: “This isn’t a difficult case. This isn’t reading tea leaves,” he says. “We’re asking the board to look at the candidate’s own literature.”

If the court does rule favorably, the board would be forced under law to declare the at-large spot vacant and hold a special election—-which, according to Spies’ reasoning, Michael Brown could conceivably enter, campaign for (without using the word “Democrat”), win, and be properly certified.

“If he had not on his brochures called himself a Democrat, on his Web site called himself a Democrat, on his biography called himself a Democrat,” Spies says, “then, yes, he could have run as an independent.”

Press release after jump.

Press Release

December 1, 2008
DCGOP Files a Petition with the DC Court of Appeals
DCGOP Prepares for Legal Challenge of Michael Brown’s Certification to DC Council

Washington, DC: At approximately 11:00 a.m. this morning, the DC Republican Committee filed a Petition with the DC Court of Appeals to challenge the certification of Michael A. Brown to the DC Council (At-Large).

“The DC Republican Committee will do everything it can to ensure District election law is followed and the rights of minority parties are protected. District law would be violated if Michael Brown is allowed to take office. We look forward to vigorously advocating for the enforcement of the minority party representation provision of the DC Home Rule Statute before the DC Court of Appeals, ” stated DC Republican Committee Chairman Robert J. Kabel.

A copy of the Petition filed with the DC Court of Appeals can be found attached. A conference call with Paul Craney (Executive Director) and Charlie Spies (Legal Counsel) will take place for members of the media who are interested at 2:30 p.m. today (please note the change of time). […]

“This not about the Republican Party, this is about protecting minority rights and preventing one Party rule from monopolizing government. In fact, the DC Board of Election and Ethic’s decision in this matter demonstrates the danger of one Party rule,” concluded Kabel.

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