SAN TAN VALLEY — David Malton is running for a seat on the Pinal County Board of Supervisors, but his eligibility for the office is an open question.
Malton, 50, lives in San Tan Valley and works for a web design and marketing company. He is involved with the Pinal County Chamber of Commerce, an organization he started with the goal of competing against the San Tan Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Malton also has a criminal record.
This, in and of itself, is not a revelation. Malton has spoken at some community forums and admitted his criminal past. His campaign website also includes an “About Me” section in which he references getting involved with drugs, identity theft and the adult entertainment industry. He mentions spending time in prison and being clean from meth since 2004.
Malton says he discovered religion in prison, and that his relationship with Jesus Christ is what turned his life around and kept him on the straight and narrow.
But his website does not cover the extent of his criminal history.
Prior to moving to Arizona in 2008, Malton lived in Orange County, California. Court records in California show four separate instances — across a decade — where Malton pleaded guilty to multiple felonies in Orange County Superior Court.
Those guilty pleas came from charges that originated in 1995, 1997 and two separate sets of charges in 2004. The felony convictions included burglary, possession of forged items, receiving stolen property (twice), sale or manufacture of deceptive identification, forgery, possession of drugs with intent to sell (twice) and possession of a forged driver’s license.
Malton was sentenced to more than four years in prison for those convictions. His last sentence, which was imposed in 2004, was for two years and four months.
In a phone interview with PinalCentral, Malton said he served about 16 to 18 months of that sentence before being released early for good behavior. He said drug addiction, and hanging out with the wrong people, is what led him down the path of criminality.
“At 17, I was hooked on meth,” he said. “At 18, 19, I fell in with the wrong crowd.”
With an extensive record of felony convictions, there is a process involved for the restoration of civil rights. Those rights include voting rights, the right to serve on a jury, the right to own a firearm and the right to hold public office.
Malton said his voting rights were restored in California because the state has a process where those rights are automatically restored 13 months after an inmate’s release from prison if they stay out of trouble with the law.
He is registered to vote in Arizona, and Pinal County Recorder Virginia Ross said he has been registered since 2008.
“I can do everything except own a gun,” said Malton, describing that as the only civil right he was unable to restore. He said he has no official paperwork that verifies his rights being restored and added he never went before a judge in California to have any rights restored.
In seeking clarification on whether Malton is eligible to hold public office in Arizona, PinalCentral asked the Pinal County Attorney’s Office but was directed to the county Elections Department.
Every candidate that runs for office must fill out and sign a “Nomination Paper Declaration of Qualifications” form that verifies, under penalty of perjury, that the candidate is qualified to hold the office they seek.
“That’s not something that our office is required to research,” said Michele Forney, elections director in Pinal County. “We take them at their word.”
In order to investigate the matter, Forney said a “qualified elector” would have to challenge the nomination paper. And Forney said she was not aware of language in Arizona law or the state Constitution that would prohibit a candidate from holding public office based on certain types of felony convictions.
Malton is already on the ballot for the Aug. 4 primary. He is running as a Republican in District 5, against incumbent Todd House and Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy. The district includes Apache Junction, Gold Canyon and part of San Tan Valley.
Since all three candidates are running as Republicans, the winner of the primary will be unopposed in the Nov. 3 general election.
“There may be some avenue (to prevent a candidate from taking office) after the election has ended,” Forney said, if it was determined a candidate was ineligible to hold that office.
The question of whether or not Malton is eligible to run for or hold office is complicated by the fact that his crimes were committed in California, while he is seeking public office in a different state.
In California, anyone with a felony conviction for bribery, perjury, forgery, embezzlement of public money and other specific crimes is barred from holding public office.
Due to Malton’s felony convictions for forgery, he would be ineligible to hold office in California.
“However, this is only representative of California and each state will have varying laws on this topic,” a spokeswoman for the Orange County Registrar of Voters said in an email to PinalCentral.
A voicemail left with the California Secretary of State’s Office was not returned.
Malton admitted to PinalCentral that he was involved in pornography. He said he was on camera in several adult films. He said he never took his clothes off in those movies.
Online searches appear to show Malton, under the name “Ross Lullaby,” acting in adult movies from 2001-02 that involve bondage. Women are shown tied up and in distress while the actor known as Ross Lullaby is at times fully clothed and other instances not wearing a shirt.
A website that carries the Ross Lullaby movies has this description: “Beautiful naked females, severely restrained in a dark dungeon, or tightly bound in the great outdoors. Their struggles never fail to please Master of the bondage arts, Ross Lullaby.”
Malton adamantly denied performing in any movies that featured torture or women in pain.
“My videos were mostly tickle and spank,” he said. “It’s not something I’m proud of.”
He said he receives no residuals or monetary compensation for the purchase or download of those movies.
Malton describes himself as a big supporter of President Donald Trump. He plans to lower taxes and lure businesses to Pinal County. He said there are enough houses being built, adding the county badly needs more businesses and jobs.
He criticized his opponent House for receiving campaign donations from Rose Law Group and said the incumbent supervisor is too beholden to outside interests.
“Todd has too many puppet strings attached to him,” Malton said. “He’s nothing but a yes man for (Johnson Utilities owner) George Johnson.”
Malton talked about sales taxes in the county that he believes are excessively high, saying that’s what first got him interested in running for office.
He also positioned himself as the candidate with the best chance of unseating House.
“I don’t think Serdy has a snowball’s chance in hell,” he said.