FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Why would folks in Alameda County, California want a Maryland resident representing them in Congress?
Yes, it's legal -- but only because the CA office of elections covers their ears and eyes and pretends not to know the 77-year-old Stark doesn't really live with his in-laws.
Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark (Democrat-Californyland) has represented California’s 13th Congressional District since January 1973. In 2007 and 2008, though, he claimed Anne Arundel County, Maryland, as his home, filing for tax exemptions on a waterfront house he claims is his only residence.
A fact sheet provided by the California secretary of state’s elections division (“Summary of Qualifications and Requirements for Partisan Nomination for the Office of United States Representative in Congress“) suggests that any candidate, incumbent or not, must at very least be a resident of the state in order to run for Congress:
Every candidate shall:
A. Be at least 25 years of age, a U.S. citizen for seven years, and a resident of California when elected.
Emphasis added. Further, the U.S. Constitution seems to be fairly clear on the issue of residency and eligibility for Congressional office. From Article 1 § 2:
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
When contacted by Bloomberg news, Stark (D-CA? MD?)claimed the Maryland house as his only residence. “I don’t have, I don’t own another residence,” he said, adding that he spends “about two-thirds of the year” in Maryland.
Both Stark (D-CA? MD?) and his wife remain registered to vote in California, with the 77 year old representative using his in-laws’ home address as his official address for voting purposes, according to Bloomberg (who says you’re too old to move in with your parents?) — a fact that, apparently according to California election law, “conclusively” proves he is a resident of the Golden State, regardless of whether he actually lives there or clear across the country.
Stark’s (D-CA? MD?) eligibility to claim a homestead tax exemption on his “3,600-square-foot home located on 6.35 acres in Harwood, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay” (value: $1.7 million, according to state tax records) is currently being investigated by the state Department of Assessments and Taxation, which has said it is likely to deny Stark the exemption going forward, but is unlikely to demand a repaying of fraudulently-exempted taxes from the “California” representative or his Capitol Hill peers who similarly claim state and county tax exemptions in Maryland while supposedly hailing from — and representing — other states and districts.
Even if Stark (D-CA? MD?) is eligible to represent California’s 13th District because the state recognizes a candidate’s voter registration address, not their actual residence (even if they stand up in public and declare that outside residence to be their “only” home), as their “conclusively presumed” home of record, this brings up a question I’d very much like to hear an answer to: why in the world would residents of Fremont, California and the surrounding areas want to be represented in the United States Congress by a person who, by his own admission, works, lives, and claims residency in another state that is over 2,800 miles away from them?