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Indiana tea partiers challenge Lugar residency

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Richard Lugar's tea party challenger stood Wednesday morning outside the Indianapolis home the Republican U.S. senator sold decades ago to make the case his opponent no longer has much to do with the state he represents.

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock's election-year charge is just the latest in a series of them levied by an unlikely alliance of Democrats and conservatives who have joined forces to argue the veteran senator has spent so much time in Washington, D.C., he has lost touch with Indiana. Both sides sense political vulnerability from the state's senior senator, once considered untouchable.

An Indiana tea partier filed voter fraud allegations against Lugar last December, claiming his official residency is now in Virginia and that he has committed fraud each time he has voted since selling his Indianapolis home in 1977. Hoosiers for Conservative Senate, a tea party umbrella group backing Mourdock, planned to petition Gov. Mitch Daniels Thursday to act on the complaint.

"I don't think he's been qualified for ballots in past years and of course again this year," said Monica Boyer, HFCS co-chair.

Boyer said she planned to ask Daniels to call a hearing of the state election commission to consider the allegations. Daniels, who has been mentored by Lugar throughout his career, dismissed that idea Wednesday.

During his news conference outside Lugar's former home, Mourdock called Lugar's residency in Virginia a violation of Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which mandates that a senator be an "inhabitant" of the state they are representing when elected.

While nearly all members of Congress have living arrangements in the Washington, D.C., area, most also own homes or a rent apartments in the states they represent. Lugar typically stays in hotels when he returns to Indiana and no longer has a physical address in the state.

"We decided that when we have a campaign theme about the senator no longer being in touch with Indiana, the perfect place to kick off this campaign is here, in front of the house he once owned," Mourdock said.

Lugar spokesman David Willkie did not immediately return an email Wednesday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Two Indiana attorneys general have maintained that elected officials serving in Washington do not need to live or maintain a home in Indiana to be a legal resident of the state.

"There is no requirement that a person maintain a house, apartment, or any fixed physical location," said then-Attorney General Linley Pearson in a 1982 opinion provided to Lugar ahead of his 1982 race. Attorney General Greg Zoeller has supported Pearson's interpretation of state law.

Conservative activist Greg Wright filed a complaint with the Indiana Election Commission in December alleging voter fraud by Lugar and his wife Charlene. But the commission, which weighs whether or not candidates make it on the state ballot, has not scheduled a hearing on the complaint.

Daniels said he wouldn't force the election commission to hear the complaint.

"Both the constitution and the statute are clear that (Lugar) is qualified as he's been for all his previous elections. We're going have a good, competitive election but he ought not try to end it on a technicality that really isn't legally valid," Daniels said.

Daniels cut his teeth time working with Lugar in the Indianapolis mayor's office and then followed him to Washington in 1977 as his chief of staff.

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  • Civics
    Posey, as the kids say these days, chillax, man. I suggest you do take the time to research the issue. A good place to start would be Mr. Gary Welsh's blog:

    http://advanceindiana.blogspot.com/

    A State Attorney General's interpretation of a State Constitution is trumped by the US Constitution. My understanding is it would come down to vote of the Senate to decide if the winner of a Senatorial election was an inhabitant of that state when the election was held if someone was ever challenged.

    I believe the last time the States tried to preempt the Federal government, Mr. Lincoln demonstrated who was in charge.
  • Indiana gets to decide
    Esta - Who decides who is an inhabitant of a State? I'll admit I have not researched the legal issues involved, but it seems intuitive to me that Indiana can decide who is and who is not a resident/inhabitant of Indiana and that the federal government would give enormous deference that determination - even though this is a US Constitutional determination. It is, after all, a matter of ensuring that the State is properly represented by an inhabitant of that State. So shouldn't the State have some say in who is eligible to represent it? Isn't it reasonable that we don't claim that our civil servants lose their residency by being called to serve a position that requires them to live full time outside of the State. Do you have some authority for your proposition that States cannot determine residency requirements for people who they elect to represent their own State, or is your whole argument that one of the country's longest serving and most distinguished senators should be removed based on name calling?
  • Civics
    Posey, go take a high school Civics class. You'll find out the US Constitution > Indiana Constitution.
    • Art 2. Sec. 4
      Indiana Constitution Art2, Sec. 4: "No person shall be deemed to have lost his residence in the State, by reason of his absence, either on business of this State or of the United States."
    • Gotta Agree
      Lugar hardly ever shows up in Indiana, has no domicile here, seldom responds to citizen requests or comments and has done zilch for the state for the last two terms. That doesn't add up to much of a representative in my book.
    • Mike Alte
      Mike, why can't our elected officals live in Indiana?
    • lugar
      why doesn"t the tea party, work on something important. maybe murdock, needs a lame organization like the tea party,they are useless, they will put our country in recession, again. why can"t canidates run on their own MERIT.
    • Federalist 63
      Hamilton in Federalist 62: It is equally unnecessary to dilate on the appointment of senators by the State legislatures.

      His point was we will let the states decide how to select representation of their Senators, change to elect later.

      Why if the Senate is a body of equal representation of the 50 states (13 at the time) would the legislature appoint (later change to elections) a person residing or of citizenship of another state? The anwser is they would not and there for the requirement of membership in the Senate is residency in the State for which they represent or were elected.
    • US Constitution
      US Constitution ARTICLE 1 SECTION 3 No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.

    • So where does Lugar vote?
      I don't get it. How can he not have an address in Indiana? Where does he vote? Does he vote for U.S. Senators & a U.S. House Rep in Virginia? If that's the case, he wouldn't even get to vote for himself. Isn't that something we always see the candidates do on the news each election? It seems really bizarre that he'd be voting in another state.

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