Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Hypocrisy Of News Corp's Wall Street Journal On Lugar Residency Debate

It looks like News Corp. has a double standard when it comes to judging the legality of the residence of members of Congress. The media giant's Wall Street Journal penned an editorial attacking opponents of Sen. Richard Lugar as "low-road conservatives" who have resorted to "Mickey Mouse campaign tactics" by raising honest questions about the legality of Sen. Richard Lugar and his wife, Charlene, claiming as a residence for voting purposes a home in Indianapolis that they've neither owned nor occupied in 35 years. It was quite a different story in 2008 when another News Corp. instrument, Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" challenged the legal residency of U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL). Bill O'Reilly and the Wall Street Journal's John Fund, the author of the book "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy," teamed up for a segment challenging the legality of the Florida congressman using his mother-in-law's home in Delray Beach, Florida as his Florida residence while residing in a tony Maryland suburban neighborhood on the Potomac River with his family. Check out the transcript of the show's segment titled, "The Factor Confronts Rep. Robert Wexler About Questionable Florida residence", particularly this passage where the WSJ's John Fund accuses Wexler of maintaining a phantom residence to avoid paying taxes in Maryland:
JOHN FUND, WALL STREET JOURNAL COLUMNIST: No, I don't think so. There's no law that says that a member of Congress has to live in his congressional district, but he does have to maintain some residence in Florida. So he lists this residence, but it's not — certainly not with the letter of the law and probably not with the spirit of the law because, look, I think we should take pity on Congressman Wexler. I think his voters should take up a collection so he doesn't have to live with his mother-in-law.
O'REILLY:  But he doesn't live with his mother-in-law. I want to be very clear about that.
FUND: That's his claim to…
O'REILLY:  If I run for Congress in Ohio, OK, say I, O'Reilly, decide to run for Congress in Ohio. All I have to do is get an apartment there or have somebody else get an apartment in my name because Wexler's not paying the freight for the Delray Beach place. His mother-in-law is paying it. So what is it — you know, it doesn't look like he has any tie to Florida at all.
FUND:  Except that he appears on the ballot there. And people keep sending him back to Congress.
O'REILLY:  But that's OK?
FUND:  If they knew about this, I think there would be some questions because most members of Congress live where they were elected. Some live in Washington, but they maintain a real residence back home.
O'REILLY:  But you get money, Mr. Fund, to maintain a Washington residence, correct, if you're elected to Congress?
FUND:  There's a housing deduction...
O'REILLY:  Right.
FUND: order to enable you to keep two homes: one in the district and one in Washington.
O'REILLY:  OK, but the bottom line is Wexler doesn't have a Florida residence. He doesn't live in this house. So it's a ruse. Is it not a ruse?
FUND: It's a phantom residence because I doubt that he's really spending time sleeping on the couch at his mother-in-law's, yes, especially not with his three children.
O'REILLY:  OK, so we established that, and it'd be interesting to see, you know, if Wexler would agree with this. Maybe he would. But it looks to me to be a ruse, OK? He's telling people he's a Floridian, but he's a Maryland guy.
All right. You say it's legal, you can do that based upon how he set it up. Now taxes, doesn't he have to pay taxes in both states if he has dual residency there? What does he do with taxes?
FUND: Members of Congress can choose to pay taxes either in the Washington area or in their home state.
O'REILLY:  OK, so they have the choice. So he would pay it in Florida because Florida doesn't have a state tax and Maryland taxes like crazy.
FUND:  And you have just identified one of the big reasons he has to have this phantom residence because that enables him to pay no Florida income tax.

What say you, Bill O'Reilly? At least Wexler had a couch to sleep on at his mother-in-law's home. That's more than Lugar can claim at Elizabeth Hughes' home. If anyone engaged in "low-rent politics" with the residency issue, it's Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and WSJ's John Fund.

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