Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fort Wayne Has Another Legislative Candidate With A Residency Problem

Fred Haigh is seeking the Democratic House seat represented by State Rep. Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne), but he and his wife own a 5-bedroom, $326,000 lakeside home in Michigan on which they claim a homestead exemption as their principal residence. Haigh tells the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette's Niki Kelly that he is currently commuting between his home in Michigan and Fort Wayne because he and his wife are in between homes. The couple had been renting a home they wanted to buy, but their offer was not accepted. They moved out of that home in September. Haigh says he and his wife have put money down on another house within the district they intend to move into that is within the district. Haigh has owned his Michigan home since 2008.

An election complaint is expected to be filed with the Allen Co. Election Board contesting whether Haigh satisfies the residency requirement. The Indiana Election Division's Trent Deckard gave Haigh an opinion that he can still run and vote in his Fort Wayne district in the November election, making it another one of those cases that drive former Secretary of State Charlie White crazy. White was convicted of six felonies for using his ex-wife's home as his voting residence for a several month period while he was in between homes and forced to give up his office.

Residency issues are nothing new to Fort Wayne residents. For years, former State Rep. Win Moses (D) and his wife lived in a posh home on Indianapolis' north side while claiming a residence at an apartment in the Fort Wayne district he represented for many years as their residence for voting purposes. Moses removed the homestead exemption he had been claiming on his Indianapolis home after a reporter started asking questions about his residence. Yes, Charlie, you really are a class of one in Indiana.

UPDATE: A reader pointed out another residency story Niki Kelly had in the Journal-Gazette where two law partners of a Democratic state senate candidate in Fort Wayne appear to be illegally registered to vote at their law office.
Two law partners of a Democratic Senate candidate could be committing vote fraud by registering and voting from their law firm address.
Candidate Jack Morris said he was unaware of the issue until The Journal Gazette informed him Monday. He faces Republican Liz Brown in the race for the Senate District 15 seat . . .
Timothy Logan has already cast an early ballot, while Marlin R. Benson has not.
Morris acknowledged that neither Logan nor Benson lives in the law firm’s office at 3505 Lake Ave., where they are both registered to vote.
Neither Benson nor Logan returned several calls from The Journal Gazette seeking comment Monday.
Former Secretary of State Charlie White was convicted of felony voter fraud and several other counts for using his ex-wife’s address to register to vote in the 2010 election. He lost his office and is still fighting his convictions . . .
Barry Schust, the Republican member of the Allen County Board of Voter Registration, said county records showed Benson registered at the law firm in 2009 and Logan in 2011.
Morris ran for the same seat in 2010 but lost to incumbent Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne.
It is also unclear whether Logan actually lives in Senate District 15. Morris initially gave a Blossom Road address for Logan, but it was also in Kruse’s district. He later called The Journal Gazette back with a Jefferson Way address that is in the district he is seeking.
Allen County Elections Director Beth Dlug said the Election Board couldn’t look at the situation until a complaint is filed.
She said state law requires people to be registered at their residence, which is where they sleep at night or intend to return . . .
Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine said all three men – Morris, Logan and Benson – have shown disrespect to the laws they have taken an oath to uphold.
He specifically said Morris is acting too cavalier about the violations, which could be a felony.
“Jack Morris’ response to allegations that two of his law partners registered to vote and voted contrary to Indiana law is both disappointing and non-responsive,” Shine said.
In my precinct where I've worked as an election judge in the past, I noticed a couple of business executives who use their offices as their voting address instead of their personal residences located elsewhere in the city. I knew they were residents of the city so it really didn't bother me whether they voted in my precinct or some other precinct in the city. Yet that was precisely the nail on which the prosecution in Charlie White's case used to hang their hat. I maintain that the Charlie White case was a bastardization of our residency laws to the extreme. I just wish all of the Charlie White haters would admit it publicly.

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