The Carpetbagger’s Dilemma: Verifying Residency with Public Records

When an elected official, candidate or other public figure claims to reside in one place but actually resides elsewhere, they become vulnerable to allegations of carpetbagging, potentially resulting in disqualification to hold an elected office or other legal consequences.  Two recent instances of suspected carpetbagging illustrate the ways in which public records can be used to demonstrate how a person does not actually reside at their claimed residence. The Washington Blade ran a recent article questioning Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.'s claim to be a resident of Washington, D.C., after Jackson had filed papers calling for a referendum to overturn a D.C. law that recognizes same sex marriages.  The Blade used public records to demonstrate that Jackson had first registered to vote in D.C. one month earlier.  Jackson claimed as his local residence a condo owned by another person who Jackson claimed was his roommate, however property records indicate that Jackson also owns two residences in Silver Spring, Maryland.  As of June 8, Jackson was still registered to vote in Montgomery County, Maryland, and he had listed a Maryland address for a $2,300 contribution made to Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign in November 2007.

In New York, the Bronx District Attorney is investigating allegations that State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. (who is currently at the center of the New York Senate power struggle) does not reside at his Bronx condo in the district he represents, but instead lives 14 miles away at a second home in Mamaroneck in Westchester County.  According to the NY Daily News, Espada's cars are registered at his Mamaroneck home.  Earlier this week, the Bronx DA reportedly subpoenaed state Senate records of Espada's travel vouchers, member item information and residency documents, including payroll records.  And today, CBS 2 reported that Espada had listed his Mamaroneck address as his residence when filing documents to post bail for his nephew in late June.