Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Did Sen. Richard Lugar Commit Voter Fraud?; Senator Claims Residency At Home He Doesn't Appear to Have Owned for Years (w/Update)

As those who have been following the Charlie White matter know, voting someplace you don't live is voter fraud, a felony.  When I read the story where Lugar aide Mark Helmke said that Lugar lived in hotels when he returned to Indianapolis, my ears perked up.

"Residence" is where one lives.  While living in a hotel is perfectly fine for having a residence in Indana to qualify to serve as U.S. Senator, the problem is the voting.  You still can't vote from someplace you don't reside.  If you're residing in a hotel, that hotel's precinct is where you have to vote.

Indiana Senator Richard Lugar
 I decided to look into Lugar's residency claim for voting purposes and this is what I found out from his voter registration record.  In 1953, Lugar registered as a 21 year old using the address 3520 Washington Blvd.  In 1960, he changed his residence to 3333 Highwoods Drive.  Then in 1969, he changed his registration to 3200 Highwoods Court.

That's been listed as his residence ever since and is still currently listed as his residence on voter registration records.  That's not a mistake. If you google that address you will find that Lugar often lists that it as his residence in Indianapolis. 

But does he own the house on Highwoods Court?  Does he actually reside there to qualify to vote in that precinct as he's been doing for apparently the last 41 years?  I went to the County Assessor's Office.  That house at 3200 Highwoods Court is shown as being built in 1969 and is listed as being owned by Elizabeth Hughes.  The county recorder's office shows it quitclaimed from David Hughes to Elizabeth in 2003.  The County Recorder's Office shows the property as being deeded from a family named Gootee to the Hughes couple in 1989.  It wasn't clear who deeded the property to the Gootees as those are paper records buried in the Recorder's Office that would take hours to search.  It is safe to speculate the the Lugars did own the property in 1969 and deeded it away to the Gootees or to someone else and the property was eventually deeded to the Gootees.

According to information obtained from a source with access to the Voter Vault, Richard and Char Lugar are registered at 3200 Highwoods, but so too is David Hughes, Elizabeth Hughes and Joseph Hughes. 

The house is located just off of Kessler Avenue, just south of 38th Street on the NW side.  I went and looked at it.  The houses in the neighborhood are average ranch style homes, running from $98K to $138K according to valuation sources on the Internet.  In an average middle-class neighborhood, the somewhat isolated two story home is the best in the area with an estimated value of $216,000.   Information on line says it is 4,000 square feet plus, with four bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths.  While in 1969 the area was undoubtedly very nice, since the crime and decline of nearby areas have undoubtedly dragged down this neighborhood.

While admittedly it is possible that I overlooked something, I could not find any records showing Sen. Richard Lugar owns the home at 3200 Highwoods Court.  Of course, one doesn't have to own the property...he or she only has to reside at the property listed in the voting registration records in order to vote using that address. Still, after my research, I have substantial doubt that Lugar lives in the 3200 Highwoods home now or has for many, many years.  I'll leave it up though to the investigative reporters to look further into this matter if they so choose.

UPDATE:  Usually Lugar votes absentee.  In the 10 elections that took place between 2006 and 2010, Lugar voted in person only three times, the 2006 General Election (when he was up for re-election) and the 2008 primary and general elections. 

NOTE:   For those of you asking, Lugar has never listed his Decatur Township farm as his residence.  I have added a link to Lugar's registration record above.  Also, I origally referred to Lugar's aide as "Mark Lubbers" when I meant "Mark Helmke."  That has been corrected.

43 comments:

varangianguard said...

I had assumed that he used the farm address in southern Marion County?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Varan,

That's what I think we all assumed, but it's not true. Besides you can't just use any addess where you own property. You have to actually live there.

All the addresses he's used for voting - which are only three - are in Washington Township.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Correction. The Washington Blvd address is in Washington Township. The other two addresses are probably in Center. They are near the dividing line between Wayne and Center, south of 38th Street. All three are in the wards of the now old city limits which is where back then he had to live in order to be elcted Mayor.

Cato said...

The Star should run your story on its front page.

Great bulldog reporting.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Thanks, Cato. It was just common sense. The information is all public records.

Erin said...

Wow. As varangianguard said, I always assumed he was registered at his farm address. Are the Hughes related to Lugar?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Erin, not that I'm aware of. The Hughes though didn't get it from Lugar. They got the house from another family that I mentioned in the article.

Yeah, I think we all thought he listed the farm as his address. He never has though.

Paul K. Ogden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Advance Indiana said...

I think it would be incumbent on Lugar to address this matter sooner rather than later. I assumed he was related to the Hughes but maybe not. I can't imagine him using a non-relative to claim a voting address. I would be curious which address he uses on his tax returns. I think it's safe to say he doesn't have a car registered in Indiana, at least not the one his wife crashed last year in Virginia while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Steve said...

If I correctly recall, the Indiana Constitution provides that when someone leaves
the state on U.S. or Indiana business, their residency is not impacted.........

Paul K. Ogden said...

Gary,

Actually the Hughes were deeded the house from the Gootee family in 1989, not from the Lugars. I assume that sometime between 1969 and 1989 the property was deeded from the Lugars to the Gootees or there was an intervening owner(s) before it was deeded to the Gootees.

It was going to take several hours to research the chain of title, quite probably looking at handwritten entries to find the deeds. Because I'm not a professional abstractor and frankly I didn't have time, I didn't research it. It's all pretty irrelevant though since the evidence is pretty persuasive that the Lugars no longer own the house he claims to reside in for voter registration purposes.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Steve,

That Lugar is a resident of the state and continues to be a resident of the state when he is away on Senate business is not the issue. The issue is voter fraud and perjury.

You can't vote using an address where you don't live. Charlie White claimed an address where he didn't live as his residence to vote. Lugar appears to be doing the exact same thing. In fact, Lugar's offense may be worse because he may have been using an address for decades where he didn't live.

Each time, Lugar voted where he didn't live, that's a Class D felony, i.e. voter fraud. Each time Lugar signed for an absentee ballot, under oath, claiming to live at a house where he didn't live, that's perjury, another Class D felony.

Advance Indiana said...

I'm not in agreement the residency issue will be decided unfavorably against Lugar as it was in the Charlie White case. White claimed a residency as his voting address in order to claim a seat on the Town Council he was not legally able to represent since he actually resided outside that district. I still think residency for Lugar will be judged by the standard used by the Supreme Court to justify Evan Bayh's residency claim in the state when Republicans challenged it when he first ran for governor in 1988, which was a very lenient standard.

Erin said...

Paul- just to clarify, Sen. Lugar usually stays at a hotel, but he does own (some portion at least) of the farm? I thought his staff had suggested for candidacy state residency purposes, his farm would qualify as his residence. Based on the Evan Bayh ruling, I think that'd be upheld and probably wouldn't even be necessary since he had already established residency and hadn't relinquished it even if he didn't currently reside in the state.

But, as you point out, residency for voting is not the same as establishing Indiana residency. Had he voted from his farm address, I think you could make a case that he didn't reside in the precinct for the last 30 days before the election, but it would probably not succeed if he had voted from there continuously since whenever he moved to Virginia.

But, to be registered at a totally different location from what his staff has suggested qualifies for Indiana residency and that he doesn't own or appear to live in is a totally different issue. I'm sure someone will make the argument, but I don't see how Lugar possibly could be held to have been a qualified voter under IN law. This is an amazing find, Paul!

Downtown Indy said...

Given Lugar's age, I would think any interest he has/had in the family farm was long ago transferred to a living trust so it could be transferred to heirs after his death. Wouldn't that mean he has no direct ownership in a legal sense as a result.

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

This is powder keg of a story!

Holy Moly!

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

Paul, I think you just got national attention. I only hope MSM will give you credit for it.

Everyone needs to send this to Drudge.

Luke's Library said...

I'm confused! There are rumors that Charlie White didn't move out of his precinct until after he way married--in may or something.

Lynda said...

The state constitution is clear. No one loses their residency when out of state on business of the government.

Paul K. Ogden said...

People are confusing two different concepts. The problem is not that Dick Lugar is not a resident of Indiana or qualified to be a U.S. Seantor from Indiana. I'm not claiming that he can't serve as a Senator from Indiana due to residency problems.

The problem is Lugar is voting using a residence where he clearly doesn't live. Every time he does that he commits voter fraud, a felony. When he signs under oath for an absenteee ballot claiming he lives at an address he doesn't live, he's committed perjury.

Thus: 1) Lugar is NOT disqualified to be a U.S. Senator because of residency issues; and 2) even if Lugar is convicted of commmitting multiple felonies he could still serve as U.S. Senator, because unlike Indiana law, the federal law allows felons to serve.

The problem is that committing multiple felonies generally isn't a good career move even though you're not technically disqualified as a federal candidate.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Lynda,

I'm not saying Lugar lost his residence because he was away on business. This is not an issue of his being qualified because he's not a resident. The problem is that Lugar is VOTING from a precinct where he doesn't live, and has apparently not lived for decades. You can't vote from a precinct where you don't live. The law is crystal clear on that subject and the constitutional provision you cite is completely inapplicable.

Lynda said...

Read Artlcle II, Section 4 of the Indiana Constitution. The matter has been resolved numerous times in court and by AG opinion.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Lynda,

Read what I just wrote in the comment above. You're completely missing the point. You can't VOTE where you don't live. Period. The constituional provision you cite has nothing to do with that. That provision has to do with qualification for one to serve in office. That's not the issue.

Luke's Library said...

Voting, or being registered to vote, in a non-election year has nothing to do with retaining a municipal seat.

It's my understanding that fishers town councilmen run from a district, however they all serve "At Large?"

I hate getting involved in peoples private lives, but do you know anyone that can ask Charlie's people when he moved out in 2010?

Jon E. Easter said...

I don't think he's claimed the address, but I do know that he's paid property taxes on his farm in Decatur Township. In fact, I believe he's the largest property tax payer in Decatur Township...at least that's what I've heard.

Bradley said...

Ok, stupid question time -- how many years back would the senator, not residing where he is registered to vote, be considered a felony? I know the Voter ID law was about 5 or 6 years back, but I would imagine the part about being registered where you reside is quite older.

I am an Independent in politics (it's in my nature -- and I only criticize Daniels' administration so much because I know firsthand his Workforce Development has wasted billions of dollars, which I deplore as a public servant), and I try my damnedest to see all sides of a story, all views of a person, etc. Make fun of me as a fence-sitter or "indecisive" -- I really don't care. I have tried and tried, however, to understand Lugar's upcoming Republican opponent, Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

During his Feb. 22 campaign kick-off annoucement, Mourdock stated in his speech he will not engage in bi-partisanship if elected Senator and lamented that bipartisanship is what has led to this country's current problems(!) When Jim Shella (I know, I'm not a huge Shella fan, either) asked Mourdock after the speech if he believed in being partisan, Mourdock said he thinks there needs to be MORE partisanship.

I don't know about anyone else, but that scared the hell out of me. I'll catch flak here I'm sure, but I would a 100 times over prefer the politician who works their ass off with as many other politicians as possible to do what's right, based on the Constitution of the US (and Indiana), for the most citizens than the less-engaged, smoozing politician (from any party) who does only what their party wants because it's based on "principle". Yeah it's idealistic and perhaps naïve, but I don't give a damn.

Paul, if all what you wrote about Lugar is true, as it seems likely, he will not get my vote -- but Mourdock would never have my vote with his ridiculous attitude.

Indy man said...

I think that you are way off on a wild goose chase, Paul. Where one “lives” can be evidence of residency but it does not conclusively establish “residency.“ As the Bayh case points out, one’s “residence” is largely wherever one intends it to be.
If where one “lives” is the legal definition of “residence,” then many of us who have lived in a college dorm, have lived on a military base, or who own more than one piece of real estate are guilty of vote fraud (and tax fraud too).
Where Secretary White went wrong is that he indicated in the public record his intent to establish three different residences at the same time. For Senator Lugar to commit an equivalent crime, he would need to vote in three different precincts on the same day.

varangianguard said...

Well, if he owns the Decatur township property, then he should be voting in Decatur, not Washington, township. I think this is Paul's point.

DailyKenn.com said...

It's hard to believe Lugar's staff would have overlooked this "technicality."

It reminds me of issue regarding Obama's citizenship.

Erin said...

Indy Man- I think you're applying the wrong principle here. To be a qualified voter is very different than residency. Where White went wrong (very briefly and incompletely) is that he did not change his voter registration to reflect where he did live and voted at a precinct he no longer resided in without following the proper fail safe voting provisions. Look at IC 3-11-8 and 3-10-10. White's residency as it relates to his service on the town council is based on a totally different law (from Fisher's own definition of when you are no longer eligible to serve on a district seat if you move outside the boundaries- it's an automatic forfeiture of the seat if you look at the language) than the voter fraud and perjury charges.

Indiana's voter laws are very clear about what happens if you move to a different address- you must change your registration and can vote one time at your former precinct by following certain procedures. The fact that Lugar may or may not have resided at that address or had Indiana residency there does not in any way mean he could continue to vote in that precinct for as long as he wanted. If you move, you have to change your registration. You cannot knowingly vote in a precinct where you do not or no longer reside. Also, military and college student voter registration laws are applied differently as to where they may vote than other voters. If you own multiple properties, you don't get to pick which one you are registered to vote at, you vote in the precinct where you have lived prior to whatever election is coming up so long as you are registered there. If you're not registered there, you must follow the Indiana laws for returning to your old precinct and affirming your new address.

Because Lugar has not lived anywhere in Indiana for a while, he could use the same address he uses for state residency purposes to vote- the farm. But, without some ownership of the Wash township address, even for the very lax state residency purposes, I doubt he could claim that address because it is owned by someone else so he couldn't claim he was planning on returning to that address specifically. For voting purposes, using the Wash town address is much more problematic and I really don't see how, with the info we have so far, Lugar could remain a qualified voter in that precinct.

Paul- I'm not sure that this would rise to criminal liability though because there is much more room for mistake to be asserted and there isn't a clear reason of why Lugar would have tried to conceal changing his registration to the farm for example. But, whether criminal or not, it certainly seems he should not be registered or voting from that address. Again, this is really an amazing bit of info you've found. Very impressive!

Michael said...

I moved out of Pike Township 11 years ago. Sold my house there and now reside in Greenwood. If I had continued to vote in my Pike Township precinct all this time, I would be committing a felony. Each time.

I am still an Indiana resident and could run for the US Senate.

Advance Indiana said...

Evan Bayh voted as a statewide elected official in a precinct in which he didn't live in Vigo County for many years.

Cato said...

Paul, I disagree. I look at the terms discretely. Leaving the State on official business creates no defect in the current election term.

Each successive term, however, creates a new obligation to prove residency in the state.

If Lugar had no residency in Indiana, each successive term beyond the first, would have been defective.

Caselaw excuses this obligation merely by fiat.

Nicholson said...
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Frugal Hoosier said...

I have never been to your blog before but someone sent me to see this legal argument you are making about Sen L's voting residence. You keep drawing distinction bewteen qualification for service and qualification to vote. Cato, from above, is absolutely right once the person in question leaves to provide public service, say to fight a war, they may lose their techincal residence. This would give the solider or statesman no place to legally vote. Surely you're a good enough lawyer to know that this not how the Constitution is to be read. If you are going to challenge him on these grounds, you owe an apology to the thousands of Hoosiers serving in our military and have the right to vote in Indiana, if this is the place from where they answered the call to serve.

Lynda said...

The state constitution and state law are clear. Read I.C. 3-5-5-5 and end this silliness.

republican like me. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cato said...

Not quite, FH. Compare this case to Rahm's. Everyone knew Rahm only left Chicago for D.C. purposes and would return as soon as those obligations ended. He eats, dresses, swears and talks Chicago. Were he met on a Chicago street by a man who had never heard of him, the stranger would think him a Chicagoan.

With Dick, it's not that clear. Dick appears to be a Washingtonian who keeps no residential connection or personal affinity to Indiana.

He certainly makes enough money to maintain a residence in Indiana, but he keeps none. When he returns to Indiana, he uses hotels. Where is Dick's residential connection to Indiana?

When one leaves for governmental service, one may not lose residence, absent more, but one certainly loses a *specific* residence that he no longer occupies.

That's Paul's point.

Frugal Hoosier said...

I suppose that is correct, RLM, but Ogden is basing this alleged registration issue on an allegedly invalid residency. So I don't think a discussion of residency is outside this discussion.

Frugal Hoosier said...

Cato, Senator Lugar has dedicated his life to the betterment of Indianapolis Public Schools, the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana. His name ID is probably in the mid-80s. Do you think the kids who Sen. Lugar gave the Spirit of Community award to in Kokomo think he's not a Hoosier? Do you think the students and leaders at Warren Township Schools who won the Lugar Education Patriot Award doubt the Senator's commitment to Indiana? What about the recipients of the Lugar Hoosier Scholars award at Indiana State, aren't they thankful that Senator Lugar cared enough about Indiana to establish educational scholarships for students in need? What about the students lucky enough to attend the Lugar Center for Tomorrow's Leaders at the University of Indianapolis?

I could go on and on, but none of what I've described seems to matter to you. It does, however, matter to those whose lives have been touched by Sen. Lugar's leadership.

Cato said...

And here come the tiresome trolls. What a vacuous response.

FH, expeditiously return to whatever lowbrow forum spawned you. The editorial standards are a bit higher on these pages.

Steve Gordon said...

Maybe the Hughes family adopted him. Thus he could still be living at that address and voting in that precinct. Maybe he's a boarder and just rents space. That DC economy is a killer and maybe he can't afford to own property in the state that he lives.

Frugal Hoosier said...

Cato, Charlie Sheen couldn't have said it better himself. You keep good company.