Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Impoverished Sen. Richard Lugar Claims He Can't Afford an Indiana Home; Law Professor Fails to Any Legal Authority in Support of Senior Senator

One of the arguments that has been used to justify Sen. Richard Lugar's lack of an Indiana home is that he can't afford to maintain a home in the D.C. area and Indiana.
Sen. Richard Lugar

But the cry of protestations from the Lugar camp is that the Senior Senator can't afford that second home.  Really?  Lugar makes $174,000 a year as a U.S. Senator.  According to his 2010 financial disclosure statement, Lugar is very likely a millionaire with virtually no debt.  Yet Lugar can't afford even a $1,000 a month apartment and instead has to stick taxpayers for renting rooms at fancy hotels such as JW Marriott?

Lugar's problem is that he arrogantly wants to use a stranger's home as his current residence, a house at 3200 Highwoods Court that he sold in 1977.  Lugar continues to sign documents under oath he lives at that home and puts that address on official government documents in order to get an Indiana's drivers' license and pay Indiana income tax.  It should be noted that where Lugar actually lives, Virginia, has a higher income tax rate than Indiana.  Defenders point to a statute which says that people in service to the state do not lose their Indiana residence because they spend most of their time out of state.  Of course, Lugar didn't lose his residency because of his service in D.C..   He lost his residency because he sold his home and established no other residency in Indiana.

Indiana law does not provide an exception to voter fraud and perjury statutes which allow an individual like Lugar to sign documents under oath that they lives someplace they don't live.  And even if the above law regarding out-of-state might be misconstrued to allow Lugar a pass, pray tell what is the exception to the law that allows his wife, Char, to do the same thing?  Even Lugar defenders avoid that question. They have no answer.

Of course, none of the above has anything to do with the requirement that Lugar be an "inhabitant" of Indiana under the United States Constitution in order to be elected U.S. Senator.  The United States Supreme Court in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1995) has said that state law is irrelevant to the qualifications under Article 1.  That shot down Lugar's only defense to his claim he meets the Article 1 inhabitancy requirement because of Indiana law, an issue which, by the way, have never been addressed by an Indiana Attorney General.  Even if elected, the Senate can refuse to seat Lugar.

Prof. Douglas W. Kmiec
Into the morass of Lugar's legal defense, steps Pepperdine law professor Douglas W. Kmiec who formerly taught at Notre Dame Law School.  Prof Kmiec offers his opinion (for the reasons that follow, I hesitate to refer to it a "legal opinion")  to the Marion County Election Board which will hear a Lugar voting challenge on Thursday.   In the opinion, Prof Kmiec waxes eloquently about what a "statesman" Lugar is and how the state should be proud of him.  Kmiec decries the attack on Lugar.  Lest anyone doubt check out his ties to the Lugar campaign, Kmiec admits he made a "modest donation" to the Lugar campaign that could only be "modest" because he is a "teacher."   How incredibly obnoxious is that?  Prof. Kmiec is a long-time law professor.  When I checked out IU-Indianapolis law professor salaries several years ago, virtually every law professor made more than $100,000, with great benefits.  As a long-time law professor, Kmiec could well make more than $200,000.  Yet Prof. Kmiec disingenuously suggests he is an impoverished "teacher."

After that, Prof. Kmiec's opinion becomes even more humorous.  Even though he listed as the "Caruso Family Chair in Constitutional Law and Human Rights" on his letterhead, Prof Kmiec apparently lacks access to the Constitution or any law books.  In his opinion, Prof. Kmiec fails to cite any provision in the constitution, any statutes, or any case law.   Instead he cites stories in the media by Jim Shella, Matt Tully and Andrea Neal, none of which have any legal background whatsoever.  Prof. Kmiec then notes that Lugar has gotten by with using someone else's address when he files his taxes and gotten an Indiana driver's license.  Prof. Kmiec suggests that that is evidence Lugar's residency is not a problem.  The misplaced logic is astonishing.  It is akin to saying because a person has shoplifted from a store several times before, that is then evidence that it is okay to steal from that store.

If the Lugar people desire a legal defense of the senior senator from a law professor, they need to do better than the tripe Prof. Kmiec offers in his letter.


Gary R. Welsh said...

If it was a movie, we would have to call it "Saving Senator Lugar." A group of reporters get together and plot how to convince the public and decision-makers that what Lugar is doing is perfectly okay. Each reporter gets their assigned message, writes the script and turns it in to their news editor for publication, who dutifully publish for public consumption. Sen. Lugar then relies on the published works of these reporters as evidence he has followed the law. Reporters no longer serve the public; they are simply mouthpieces for the ruling elite.

Paul K. Ogden said...

That law professor's letter is downright embarassing. I'm so glad he wasn't a law prof at my alma mater, IU-Indianapolis. If you read that without knowing his background, you'd have no idea he was a law professor.

Southsider said...

Can't afford an Indiana home.... You got be be kidding. In all the years he's been in politics, he hasn't had a donor or met with someone in the construction industry? He has a farm, carve out a 1/2 acre and build a log cabin, get a mailbox and put a number on it! He could probably make a phone call and get it done without cost.

patriot paul said...

A rock song comes to mind:

(As recorded by the Edgar Winter Group)

The mountain is high, the valley is low
And you're confused on which way to go
So I've come here to give you a hand
And lead you into the promised land, so

Come on and take a free ride
Come on and sit here by my side
Come on and take a free ride

Downtown Indy said...

Interesting reference to who pays his hotel bill. I wonder if that comes out of the multi-million stipend he gets to pay his staff and run various operations related to his senate seat? Just another 'business expense' write off? Is that legal?

Paul K. Ogden said...

I'm with Southsider. That's a good plan.