Senator Lugar’s address problems, examination and questionnaire

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.

10 thoughts on “Senator Lugar’s address problems, examination and questionnaire”

  1. Which address is proper for service of process? Perhaps, his inaction furthers a scheme to evade, or at least avoid, same at his principal residence?

  2. not to secure a conviction

    Why not? Gotta start somewhere…

    Yes, yes, I can see the difficulty for Senators and Representatives–and while I think we ought to resolve these difficulties in the direction of requiring them to maintain genuine residency in the state or district they are elected to represent, there’s no reason to single out Lugar as a fall guy for that.

    But the fact that the Indiana address he continues to claim hasn’t been his for 35 years? That’s pure fraud–guilty as sin, throw the book at him.

  3. Just as a point of clarification; when is the last time that a member of our Political Class been held to the same requirements of the law that a mere citizen not so connected has been held to?

    Subotai Bahadur

  4. I was AD in the Navy, driving a friend’s car in Vallejo, CA. Got pulled over, a head light was out.

    Had a NJ driver’s license. The address was USS P___, FPO San Francisco, CA. The policeman wanted to give me a ticket. Looks at my license. “Where do you live?” “In San Diego.” “Why do have a NJ license?” “I’m from NJ.” “Where’s your ship at?” “Mare Island Navy Shipyard. It’s homeported in San Diego.” Why does it say FPO San Francisco?” “Because that’s its official address.” “You don’t own the car?” “I’m borrowing it for the weekend.” He threw all the paperwork back at me. Threw. “There’s a K-mart across the street. Go get a new headlight.

    He could, by precedent, be using his Washington DC office address on his license. If he is using his old address, he’s violating the law. But, have you looked at his license and do you know what address he’s using?

  5. I’m from Indiana and don’t think Dick will be going back to the senate.

    Last week I had a phone call from a pollster in Indy that wanted to ask two questions. The first was multiple choice. She asked what mattered to me most as a voter. The answers ranged from national security to ‘creating’ jobs. I chose cutting and balancing the budget for my answer. The second asked if I supported the Dick or primary challenger Mourdock. I answered Mourdock.

    When she asked why I said that this Dick has been in for way too long : )

    She responded that most in the poll had said the same thing.

  6. I wonder where (if) he pays state income taxes. If in VA, then he’s a VA resident. If in Indiana, then he must have an address for filing purposes. Wonder what address that is?
    This same situation may apply to a majority of Congressional office holders.
    Senator Lugar has, IMO, been in the Senate too long. He no longer represents his constituents in the State of Indiana as much as he represents himself.

  7. Kirk Parker – Conviction would probably be a life sentence at his age and the man’s legitimately done an awful lot of good service. He just needed to take the political hit and change his Indiana address to a hotel room he’s already paying for or the farm he’s owned all along. He won’t do it and that’s a bad sign.

    Tomw – He probably has to file taxes for DC where he collects a paycheck, Virginia where he owns property, and Indiana where he claims residence. Filing state income taxes just means you earned money there or you lived there.

  8. What’s the line about the average citizen commits three felonies a day?

    Bust some law makers on one or more of those three felonies, and maybe they’ll think about recinding some of them.

    Lugar is by no means a worst case political elite, but he’s voted for many of those inadvertant felony laws.

Comments are closed.