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Nguyen's address in doubt

SPECIAL REPORT:

Costa Mesa-area Assembly candidate may have lived outside of 68th District when he registered to vote.

September 30, 2010|By Mike Reicher, mike.reicher@latimes.com

A candidate for state office may not have lived in the district he seeks to represent at the time he registered to vote, when he submitted his nomination papers, and when he voted there during the primary election, according to campaign finance and voter registration records and accounts from several neighbors.

Businessman Phu Nguyen, the Democratic candidate for the Costa Mesa-area 68th Assembly District, grew up in a home within the district and stated during an interview that he moved back in before he registered to vote, but neighbors and public records indicate that he did not.

If that is the case, election law experts say, he may have committed perjury on his voting affidavit and on his nomination papers, and may have voted fraudulently. Officials and legal experts cite the California election code, which says an Assembly candidate must be qualified to vote, and therefore have his or her "domicile" in the district.

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Neighbors say that Nguyen, 33, wasn't living in his family's Westminster home, and was instead living in Santa Ana — outside of the 68th District — when he registered to vote Oct. 6, 2009, submitted his nomination papers March 10, 2010, and voted in the state primary June 8, 2010.

Nguyen disputed the Westminster residents' accounts and said they couldn't have been watching his home closely enough to know whether he lived there with his wife and children. He said multiple times in an interview that he moved into the Westminster house during spring 2009.

"The neighbors are wrong," he said. "They've seen me. They've seen my family."

Lives in district 'majority of the time'

In a follow-up interview, however, Nguyen changed his story and said his family split time between the two homes and spent "the majority of the time in Westminster," rather than at the Santa Ana house.

In addition to Costa Mesa, the 68th Assembly District includes Westminster, Garden Grove and Fountain Valley — but not the section of Santa Ana where Nguyen is believed to have lived.

Nguyen is seeking the open seat vacated by Assemblyman Van Tran, who is termed out, against Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor, a Republican who has made headlines for his hard stances against illegal immigration.

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