It seems Democratic bloggers have opened a can of worms that perhaps inadvertently exposes quite a few problems on their side of the aisle.
Yesterday, my Democratic colleague Michael Cook once again waded into the murky waters of a state legislator’s residency. He along with Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times have pointed out in several posts that Republican Rep. Jane English moved out of her House district in order to run against Rep. Barry Hyde for an open Senate seat in North Little Rock.
Of course, the full story here is that the Democratic-controlled Board of Apportionment carefully drew the map to try to prevent her from running against Hyde. She did not comply and they are upset. So they are jumping up and down that she should not be seated and allowed to vote in the current fiscal session.
But it is surprising that they would wade into these waters considering the hypocrisy on their own side. The most glaring violation could be Democratic Speaker of the House Robert Moore who is elected as the representative from District 12 (Arkansas City), but claims a house in Little Rock as his primary residence.
This is because Moore claims the state-afforded homestead exemption at his residence here in Little Rock. In doing so, he has to sign a form saying this is his “principal place of residence.”
The form required states: “A homestead is a property of which you are the owner of record and is your principal place of residence.”
This would put Moore’s principal place of residence not in District 12 (Arkansas City), but in District 38 (Little Rock), where Rep. John Edwards is the current representative.
I spoke with Speaker Moore who told me this was “an oversight” that will be corrected.
“My primary home is my home in Arkansas City where I have lived for over 25 years,” said Moore, which he adds has been in his family for three generations. “No one in my district has any doubt that I from Arkansas City.”
Moore said he does stay at his home in Little Rock with his wife during the week when he is in town on business. He had not thought about the homestead credit until I asked him about it, but he agreed that it was not correct to claim the homestead credit for a home outside his district and will correct it as soon as possible.
He did want to make clear that he is not claiming the homestead credit in both places — only the home in Little Rock. Records from the Desha County Assessor confirm this. Moore’s property at 1 Moore Lane in Arkansas City — where he is registered to vote — is not listed as claiming the homestead credit. Moore believes the oversight of claiming the homestead credit in Little Rock resulted from when he was the director of the Alcohol Beverage Control board prior to being elected to the House.
Now, I like Speaker Moore. He has always treated me with respect and I think he has done a good job as Speaker. But according to my colleague Michael Cook’s own argument, Moore should not be allowed to vote. Will Cook now also call for Speaker Moore to also be removed from office?
And lest you write this off as an isolated occurrence, there is more.
For example, House Democrat Majority Leader Johnnie Roebuck is elected from District 20 and lists a P.O. Box in Arkadelphia on the legislative website. Her voter records show a small apartment near Henderson State – 210 N 11th St, Apartment 46 in Arkadelphia – as her residence (she also owns the entire apartment complex), but she also owns a home in Lake Hamilton that, according to the Garland County Assessor, is worth about $840,000. I wonder where she spends most of her time?