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Updated Aug 13, 2013 - 3:10 pm

Arizona county promises court action over senator's residency

PHOENIX -- The prosecutor's office in Apache County is warning a newly appointed state senator that it will seek to remove him from office if he can't prove he meets residency requirements.

The letter sent to Sen. Carlyle Begay by the Apache County Attorney's Office advises him to get a lawyer and provide proof of residency or it will seek a court order removing him from office.

The letter is in response to state Rep. Albert Hale's challenge to Begay's appointment by the Apache County Board of Supervisors. Begay claims residency in the Apache County community of Ganado, but Hale's lawyer has provided documents to the county attorney's office that he says prove Begay actually has lived in the Maricopa County town of Gilbert for the past seven years.

State law requires lawmakers to have lived for at least a year in the county they represent.

Begay did not immediately respond to calls or emails seeking comment Tuesday. He has previously said he meets the residency requirement for appointment to the Legislature.

Begay was appointed and sworn in Aug. 6 to replace a senator who resigned. Hale also applied for the appointment. All are Democrats.

Hale's lawyer sent a legal demand for action to the Apache County attorney and Arizona attorney general last week. The letter included documents showing Begay listed his residence as Gilbert in application for a town board earlier this year. He also told lawmakers he was a Gilbert resident during confirmation hearings for a state board appointment in January.

Proving he lives in Ganado should not be hard- if he really does, Hale attorney Tom Ryan said. Begay could show utility bills, a driver's license or a vehicle registration.

``There's a lot of evidence he can provide showing where his residence was,'' Ryan said Tuesday. ``My guess is he only has evidence that he has lived in Gilbert for the last 7 1/2 years.''

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