Senator Lugar is elected from the state of Indiana. The residence he claims for voting and driving purposes has not been in his possession for many years and several electoral cycles. In fact, he sold it in 1977. The Indiana Secretary of State was just convicted of several class D felonies for fooling around with his legal address during one electoral cycle. If you intentionally misstate your address on a driver’s license it’s actually a worse offense, IC 35-43-5-2(c)(1) makes it a class C felony. That’s 2-8 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Two things possibly protect Sen Lugar in terms of residency. The first is Article 2 section 4 of the Indiana state constitution. The second is implementing legislation, IC 3-5-5-5, both of which say much the same thing, “No person shall be deemed to have lost his residence” in the State and precinct respectively “by reason of his absence, either on business of this State or of the United States.” This leaves the obvious question unanswered, what does it mean, to be on the business of the United States? It could mean that if you’re elected Senator, you can live anywhere until you lose an election or die and you are still an Indiana resident. That seems unlikely. Then again, it could mean that when the Senate is in session or you are on a fact finding trip or other Senate business, those days do not count for residency and where you live the rest of the time is what is judged. In 2011 the Senate was in session 181 days and out 184 days. This would make a great deal more sense and here, Sen. Lugar gets in a bit of trouble.
Sen Lugar sold the Indiana house he actually lived at in 1977 and while he continues to maintain a farm in Indiana, he does not claim residency there. He has a million dollar home in Virginia and stays at hotels when he comes to Indiana. He could pick a hotel room and officially reside from there or he could list his farm address but neither choice is politically convenient for him. The legal requirement is easily satisfied but for 35 years he hasn’t done it.
One thing possibly protects Sen Lugar’s drivers license, that Indiana doesn’t actually comply with the federal Real ID act of 2005 in its requirement that the address on a license is the holder’s principal address. By any reasonable argument, Sen Lugar’s principal address is in Virginia and it would look like Virginia law might also support that.
Sen Lugar is a very popular politician, with cross-party support and a long political career. There is a real reluctance to dig into these matters but here are, perhaps, some questions for those who would like to take the plunge.
In 2011 (and 2010, etc) how many days was Sen. Lugar absent from Indiana on the business of the United States. How many days was Sen. Lugar absent from Indiana on other business?
In 2011 (and 2010, etc) when Sen. Lugar was in Indiana, where did he reside? Why did this address (these addresses) not become his Indiana address? Why does Sen Lugar get to choose his Indiana residence in a way that nobody else can?
The Federal Real ID law requires that a driver license address be the holder’s principal address. Is an address which was sold by the license holder in 1977 consistent with the federal requirement? And if it is not, does Indiana law actually align with Real ID? If they do align, has Sen Lugar violated IC 35-43-5-2(c) by continuing to use his old address for the past 3 years now since the 2009 Indiana driver license reforms were passed? If they do not align is Indiana vulnerable to the penalties of the Real ID act, that its driver licenses will no longer be accepted as ID at federal checkpoints?
Is Sen Lugar in compliance with Virginia law regarding driver licenses? Within 60 days of moving to Virginia, you are required to get a Virginia driver license. Even if you are a full time student, if you are employed, you still need to get a Virginia driver license. Sen. Lugar is certainly employed. He does not claim an address that he actually owns or rents in another state as a residence. According to Virginia law, has he moved? Is Sen Lugar in violation of Virginia driving law?
Ultimately it seems very unlikely that Sen Lugar is going to be called to account for any of this. The point of the exercise is to expose how out of touch he is, not to secure a conviction. Ordinary people have to swap out their license, reregister to vote when they sell their house, actually rent or own a property to qualify for residence, and if the house they usually sleep when not on federal or state business is in Virginia, they accept that they’ve moved. Sen Lugar hasn’t.