Sunday, February 05, 2012

Lugar Defends No Indiana Residence To CNN

CNN quotes Sen. Richard Lugar as calling it "a very unfair attack" to claim he is no longer a resident of Indiana because he doesn't have a home in the state. More troubling than Lugar's disregard of the constitutional requirement that he be an inhabitant of the state is the election division Republican co-director's claim that Lugar doesn't have to maintain any residence in the state in order to vote here. CNN reports:
The longtime senator told CNN he maintains a residence for “political purposes” in Indianapolis but doesn’t live at the physical residence, staying in hotels around the state, instead.
Lugar pointed to a loophole in Indiana law that protects his residency status while he lives and works in the Washington, D.C. area.
According to the state’s constitution, an absent individual does not lose residence as long as he or she is away “on the business of the State of Indiana or the United States.”
The longtime senator listed his voting address as 3200 Highwoods Court in Indianapolis but said his actual home is located in McLean, Virginia–a Washington suburb.
According to a recent report by The Daily Caller, a conservative news website, the woman who owns the house at the Indiana address said she knew that Lugar had built the home, but she was not aware he had been voting from that address.
The Daily Caller wrote the story after an Indiana tea party supporter and investigator began looking into Lugar’s residency situation.
Responding to the article, Lugar deemed the report “unfair.”
"It's a, I think a very unfair attack…because this is purely the law, two attorneys general have ruled that, specifically so that there was never any ambiguity for the last 36 years," he said.
The senator served as mayor of Indianapolis from 1968-1975, according to his website. He was elected to the Senate in 1976.
Brad King, co-director of the Indiana Election Division, said as long as an individual establishes residency before he or she leaves the state for work, the law permits that person to remain a resident, no matter how long that person is gone.
As for voting standards, King said voters must list a residence when they first register to vote, but they’re not required to show proof of residence.
If they move, they’re directed to indicate a change of address but, again, not required to prove the change.
King is obviously in the tank re-writing the law for Lugar's benefit. Firstly, the Indiana Constitution cannot alter the constitutional requirement that Lugar establish that he is an inhabitant of the state at the time he is elected to the Senate every six years. If Lugar maintains no permanent residence to which he can return to in Indiana other than hotels, then he cannot establish that he is an inhabitant of the state. The provision of Indiana's Constitution to which King refers merely protects a member of Indiana's congressional delegation from a claim they lose their residency in Indiana because they primarily reside in Washington where Congress meets year-round. Every other member of Indiana's congressional delegation at least keeps some physical residence such as an apartment or a rented home in the state to which they can return for purposes of claiming a registered voting address, obtaining a driver's license, registering their motor vehicles and claiming their permanent residence for tax purposes. Congress has enacted a law that allows members of Congress to deduct their living expenses in Washington to accommodate the fact that they are legally required to maintain two homes.

A person can run to represent any state in the country in the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate regardless of whether they live in that state. What the U.S Constitution requires is that the person prove that he or she resides in the state as an inhabitant at the time of his or election to the term of Congress to which they are elected. That's why Dan Coats, who had moved to North Carolina, was able to move back to Indiana in 2010 to run for the Senate seat he currently holds. Coats rented a home in Indianapolis to claim a residence here while he was in the process of selling his home in the Tar Heel state and changed his voter registration to Indiana. Coats wasn't even required to be a registered voter of the state. As long as he could claim a residence for establishing that he was an inhabitant as of the November election, he was qualified to run for the Senate. House members need not live within their districts; they only have to prove they are an inhabitant of the state from which they are elected.

In Lugar's case, he simply gave up any semblance of maintaining a residence in Indiana. While he could technically do that following his election, every six years he must be able to satisfy the residency requirement. By failing to maintain any residence within the state, Lugar ceased being an inhabitant of Indiana back in 1977 when he sold his Indianapolis home. He should have at least claimed the home of a relative or a friend as his residence if he was too cheap to rent an apartment or a house. Brad King's suggestion that Lugar can continue to cast absentee ballots from a home he sold 35 years ago flies in the face of our voter registration laws. Secretary of State Charlie White has just been convicted of four felonies for registering and voting for a few month period at the home of his ex-wife while he was in between residences following his first and second marriage--within the same county he had always resided in Indiana. Lugar commits vote fraud every time he casts a vote at that 3200 Highwoods Court address at which he hasn't lived in 35 years. That's what the law actually provides, but as you and I know in Indiana there are two sets of laws: those that apply to us common folks; and those that apply to the privileged elite like Lugar. The former set of laws are written; the latter set of laws conveniently spring into existence by executive or judicial fiat when it suits the ends of the privileged class.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Maybe I misread what it was reported that King said, but I didn't see where he claimed Lugar could claim someone else's residence when he went to vote. He just said when you originally registered you have to prove residence when you register (which I don't believe is just affirm under oath the address you are claiming as your residence.) He then said when you go to vote you don't have to prove your residency again. I guess it depends on what he is referring to in terms of "proving" you are registered where you live. Certainly absentee ballots applications require you to identify your address under oath and when you vote you affirm under under penalties for voter fraud that you live where you claim to live.

I thought King was being cute with his phrasing to not say anything technically wrong (except for the claim you prove your residence when you register) while not addressing Lugar's situation in particular.

Gary R. Welsh said...

There are two separate legal issues. One is the residency requirement imposed by the U.S. Constitution. The state constitutional provision cannot eliminate that requirement as both Lugar and King suggest. Residency for voter registration purposes is a state law requirement. If a person gives up a residence altogether while they are in service to the government or the military, the law allows thems to use a family member or friend's home for purposes of claiming a residence. The standard is very low, but you have to have some place within the state where you can accept mail and return home to spend the night if you want to claim a residence there. Evan Bayh at one time claimed Fred Glass' home as his and Susan's registered voting address before he bought that cheap condo on the north side to claim as his registered voting address.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Also, the CNN article mentions two AG opinions. I only know of the Linley Pearson opinion. I was wondering if Zoeller offered a new opinion. His office has a tendency to offer highly questionable opinions for solely political purposes.

Paul K. Ogden said...

GW said: "One is the residency requirement imposed by the U.S. Constitution. The state constitutional provision cannot eliminate that requirement as both Lugar and King suggest."

That is absolutely correct. A state cannot in its constitution or by state law, eliminate (or change) the residency provision in the U.S. Constitution. There is a case out there where a state legislature tried to impose term limits on its members of Congress and the Court said states can't change a qualification provision for federal legislators that's contained in the U.S. Constitution.

I agree the standard is extremely low for claiming a residence when you go vote. (Unless your name is "Charlie White.") Lugar could have done almost anything to have a legitimate residence. But instead he did the one thing he couldn't do...claim someone else's residence, some place he doesn't even arguably stay when he comes back to Indiana, as his legal residence.

I don't think Zoeller offered an opinion. He just said he agreed with the Linley Pearson opinion. Unfortunately under AG Zoeller he's turned what is supposed to be the objective role of issuing legal opinions into a political exercise. His legal opinions have no credibility because of that.

rohshack147 said...

Check this out! Note what Charlie White says about Mitch Daniels!