Sunday, January 27, 2013

Does the Newest Indianapolis Council Member Satisfy the Two Year Residency Requirement?

One would have thought that not being an election year we'd be spared another residency dispute. Think again.  Controversy has erupted on the southside of Marion County where a caucus of precinct committeemen picked Jefferson Shreve over Michael Kalscheur to fill the vacancy in District 23 which was created when Indianapolis City-County District Councilor Jeff Cardwell left to take a position in the Pence administration.  Kalscheur is a loyal Republican who serves on the Perry Township Board and ran for at-large City-County Council in 2011, logging countless hours on the campaign trail that year.  Kalscheur undoubtedly believed he earned the position as did many Marion County Republicans who have complained to this blogger.
Jefferson Shreve

First a statement about the process of filling a vacancy in Indiana to these types of elected positions.  When as here a Republican leaves office, the Republican county chairman is call a caucus of precinct committeemen (PCs) whose precincts are in the district being vacated. They meet and decide who to appoint to the vacancy.  The problem is that only about 20% of precincts are held by elected Republican PCs.  The rest are vacant and later filled by appointment of the county chairmen. Under Indiana law, a PC only has to be in his or her position for 30 days to vote.  There is no residency requirement for the appointed PCs.  So when a vacancy is about to occur a county chairmen fills any vacant positions with "mummy dummies" from all over the county (and sometimes out of the county).  These mummy dummies only "job" it is to go to the vacancy election and vote the way county chairman wants.  Needless to say Shreve was favored by County Chairman Kyle Walker and Mayor Greg Ballard.

But here is the problem:  The 47 year old Shreve has apparently lived his last 20 years or so in Monroe County.  As usual, Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana does the work for the mainstream press in digging through publicly available information that exposes Shreve's residency problem:
According to easily obtained public records, Shreve has identified himself as a Bloomington resident for nearly the past 20 years. Shreve, who has contributed generously to Republican and Democratic candidates alike, always listed a Bloomington address until he started making very generous campaign contributions this past campaign cycle to the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee ("GIRFCO), the fundraising arm of the Marion Co. GOP.

Shreve is the owner of Storage Express, a self-storage business based in Bloomington that operates 65 self-storage properties in five states. According to campaign finance reports, Shreve always provided a Bloomington address until the 2012 campaign election cycle when he started listing a southside residential address as his residence. The Bloomington Hospital website where Shreve's biography is listed as a member of the hospital's board of directors identifies him as "living in Bloomington for the past 19 years." When he joined the IU Alumni Association Board of Managers in Aug. 2011, he claimed to reside in both Bloomington and Indianapolis. A Bloomberg BusinessWeek profile similarly identifies him as a Bloomington resident for the past 19 years.
I was not at the caucus.  However, people at the the southside gathering indicate Shreve addressed the issue and stated he had been a resident of both Monroe and Marion Counties.  Indeed a 2011 press release from the IU Alumni Association Board of Manager states identifies Shreve of being "of Bloomington, Ind. and Indianapolis."  Another website identifies Shreve as being a resident of Monroe and Marion counties.   Shreve also apparently said at the caucus that he only recently moved to the southside where he owns rental property.  That would seem to contradict the claim he had some sort of dual residency.

Here is the thing though.  As any Hoosier politician who has been conscious during the last few years knows, there is no such thing as being a "resident" of two different places under Indiana law.   "Residency" is defined by the Indiana Code and case law.  You only have one legal residence under that definition.

Under IC 3-8-1-25:  "A candidate for membership on city-county council of a first class city must have resided in the district in which seeking election, if applicable, for at least two (2) years before the date of taking office."  IC 3-8-1-5.7 through IC 3-13-1-11 makes this 2 year residency requirement applicable to individuals who seek to fill a vacancy at a caucus of PCs.  It does not appear from the publicly available information obtained via the Internet that Shreve met the residency requirement to be elected Saturday to the Indianapolis City-County Council.

Undoubtedly once government offices open back up Monday, interested Republicans are going to make inquiries to the Monroe and Marion County voter registration offices to figure out where Shreve has been claiming to have been a resident for voting purposes the past few years.  Also, inquiries will also probably be made as to where Shreve might have been claiming a homestead. Both documents require an statement under oath as to where the person's residence is.  If Shreve is voting or claiming a homestead at a Monroe County address in the last two years, any claim he resided in District 23 for the requisite two years would seem to go up in smoke.

The question though remains why a Bloomington resident who apparently only recently moved to Indianapolis would be a favorite of the mayor and county chairman over a long-time local and loyal Republican   Welsh suggests Shreve's sizable political donations might have played a role:
The Indiana Election Division's website identifies campaign contributions Shreve has made to state and local candidates as far back as 2001. In the 2001-02 period, Shreve contributed $3,100 to the campaign of Democratic Mayor John Fernandez as a Bloomington resident. The only other candidate of either political party that he contributed more money to was Gov. Mitch Daniels, to whom he gave close to $3,500. Although most of the contributions Shreve has made have been to Republican candidates, he has not shied away from supporting Democrats. In 2009, he contributed $1,000 to Evan Bayh. He gave $250 to Democrat Linda Pence's losing 2008 campaign for Attorney General, a contribution he matched for Republican Greg Zoeller in 2012. This past year, Shreve donated $2,700 to GIRFCO and $2,500 to Richard Lugar's losing re-election bid. He also contributed $3,750 to the Indiana Republican State Committee this past year.
Shreve was listed as an alternate delegate for the 7th Congressional (Indianapolis) District at the 2012 Republican National Convention.  Interesting he is the only one of the six delegates and alternates from the 7th who is not identified as being from "Indianapolis" or "Marion County."

Congressional District 7 (Delegates) Congressional District 7 (Alternates)
Mayor Greg Ballard, Indianapolis
Jennifer Ping, Marion County
Jeff Cardwell, Indianapolis
Winnie Ballard, Indianapolis
Jefferson Shreve
Robert Vane, Indianapolis

Advance Indiana's take on this subject is a must read.


Greg Bowes said...

Score another blow to access to public information. Just about two years ago, the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance maintained a tool on its web site allowing anyone to check the status of property tax homestead exemptions. If you go to now, you will see it is restricted to county officials only. Someone must have put in the fix to keep the database from the public after the recent issues surrounding Senator Lugar and Secretary of State Charlie White. I wish our elected officials remembered that they work for us. The information is publicly available by going to the county Auditor’s Office. Why shouldn’t our government make what is already in an internet-based and searchable database available to the public?

Nicolas Martin said...

Elected officials do not "work for us," they rule us. Democracy is the fiction which obscures the reality.

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