November 1, 2010

John Husted Taxes Our Patience, And Will Not Get My Vote

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:52 am

There are at least 50 posts I wish I could have addressed during the final months of the midterm campaigns, and I may find the time to list them at some point today. If not, I want to make darn sure I get the following off of my hope-to-do list.

The campaign of Democrat Maryellen O’Shaughnessy sent out an e-mail on September 29, an evening during which a debate with GOP opponent Jon Husted was to have occurred (Husted announced that he would not do the debate several weeks earlier for reasons that don’t seem to pass the stench test, let alone the smell test). I’m linking to Glass City Jungle’s carriage of the first and third paragraphs of that e-mail:

O’Shaughnessy Wins Debate, Husted Speechless

Today, in what was originally scheduled to be a lively debate between Maryellen O’Shaughnessy and Jon Husted, Maryellen unveiled her ten point plan for the Secretary of State’s office. Highlights of the plan include partnering with all 88 county Boards of Elections, creating jobs through the business services division and running for reelection in 2014. The full plan can be viewed here.

“Today I’m releasing the last 4 years of my tax returns and am calling on Jon Husted to do the same. Ohioans deserve to know if he has improperly been taking a federal tax cut available to legislators who live more than 50 miles from the capital. It’s about Jon Husted receiving taxpayer funded benefits, to the tune of thousands of dollars, for travel he was not making. Are these the ethical standards Ohioans expect from their Secretary of State?

Let’s walk the history through. First, the background (click on “more” if you are on the home page to read the rest of the post):

  • Husted for years claimed to reside in a small home in Kettering, a suburb of Dayton, even though his wife and children live in the northern Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington, and even though Husted clearly has spent the vast majority of his time there since his second marriage.
  • As a state representative until 2008, and then when he ran for State Senator, Husted was required by law to be a resident of the district to be a candidate for those offices.
  • In 2008, as he was running for the State Senate, the evidence that he was not spending much if any time in Kettering was literally piling up.

This situation prompted the Montgomery County Board of Elections to investigate the validity of Husted’s voter registration as Kettering/Montgomery County resident.

I’ll let the O’Shaughnessy campaign recount the next few episodes of the saga, as their rendering is accurate (subtitles not included):

The Board of Elections ordered an investigation into the matter on October 21 2008, three days after a Dayton Daily News article revealed that Husted claimed residency in both Kettering and Upper Arlington. Board member Dennis Lieberman said the Board of Elections had an “obligation” to investigate the claims. Three of the four members of the bipartisan board voted to pursue the investigation.

On February 25, 2009 the Montgomery County Board of Elections voted 2-2 along party lines to send Jon Husted’s residency case to Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner for a ruling. During Husted’s hearing he admitted to living in Upper Arlington and refused to disclose how often he and his family are at their home in Kettering. Two Democratic members of the Board voted against Husted while the two Republican members voted in favor of his testimony.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections voted 2-2, again along party lines, in Jon Husted’s residency case.Two Democrats voted against Husted while two Republicans voted in support of the State Senator. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner sent the case back to the Montgomery County Board of Elections on June 8, 2009.

On August 11, 2009, Ohio State Senator Jon Husted filed a writ of mandamus with the Ohio Supreme Court against Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. The filing requested the Supreme Court to order Brunner to issue a final ruling on Husted’s residency challenge. Husted claims that he has a clear legal right to “immediate resolution to the purported challenge to his voter residency in Montgomery County,” and that the matter has been delayed “far beyond any allowable statuary limits or reasonable timeframe.” He also said the evidence supporting his legal right to vote in Montgomery County is “overwhelming and uncontroverted.”

On September 21, 2009, Secretary of State Brunner, of whom I am no fan, nevertheless committed an act of common sense in ruling on the matter:

“While Senator Husted’s subjective testimony claims an intention to return to a ‘fixed’ habitation, the weight of the evidence based on his actions and those of his family under the relevant legal provisions tip the scale so clearly against his assertions that I am convinced and hold the firm belief that he is no longer a resident of Montgomery County and therefore is not eligible to vote there,” Brunner wrote.

Husted went to the Ohio Supreme Court, and won:

… the court ruled that Brunner relied too heavily on that section over other parts of state law and the Ohio Constitution that define residency as where someone intends to return when absent as well as a person’s home at the time he or she goes to work for the state.

Husted has said he stays with his family when on state business in Columbus and returns to Kettering “not daily, but weekly” and has said under oath that he always intends to return to Kettering.

Oath or not, nobody with a brain believes the last bolded paragraph. Even if the “weekly” part is true (which I seriously doubt, having seen his house and property from the outside in person), the idea that a married guy with a family and kids with roots in Columbus is going to leave when his career is over and drag everyone — or even only his real estate agent wife — back to Kettering (note: not “Montgomery County,” only “Kettering) is absurd on its face.

Now let’s get to the tax issue O’Shaughnessy has raised.

You see, “the IRS gives state lawmakers who live more than 50 miles away from the (state) capitol a break (i.e., a deduction against income) on their federal taxes.”

If Husted has been taking or ever has taken the deduction since his second marriage, he would be claiming that he “lives more than 50 miles away” from Columbus, which he doesn’t — and he certainly hasn’t been running up the kinds of expenses (meals, overnight lodging, etc.) that would entitle him to a deduction. By taking the deduction, he would be telling the IRS that he has been living in and frequently commuting from Montgomery County, which, regardless of his “residence” status for voter-registration purposes and regardless of what the Ohio Supreme Court says, is not true.

But if Husted hasn’t been taking the deduction, and passing up a tax benefit that easily results in thousands of dollars of reduced taxable income each year, he’s admitting that he really wasn’t living in Kettering during the tax years involved.

So, which is it? Even though Jon Husted wants our votes, I guess we’re not supposed to know.

I called Husted campaign manager Ryan Frazee a month ago and asked him if Husted had taken the deduction involved, and if he had, to identify the tax years in which he took it. Frazee said he’d get back to me. Unless he sent an e-mail that hit junk or spam and I missed it, he hasn’t.

All of this aside, the fact is that Jon Husted has not lived in the state rep district or the state senate district he claims to “represent” for several years. It may pass legal muster, but it doesn’t pass substantive, citizen-legislator muster.

Husted’s Upper Arlington residency while “representing” areas of Montgomery County also explains why he could somehow end up being blindsided when NCR decided to move its corporate headquarters from Dayton to Metro Atlanta.

Given the totality of the circumstances, I cannot and will not vote for Jon Husted for Secretary of State. I also cannot understand how any sensible conservative who is aware of the totality of the circumstances can do so.

Finally, I can’t understand how a political party that claims to have “Tea Party Values,” knowing full well the totality of the circumstances, could have proactively promoted and stubbornly persisted in promoting Jon Husted’s candidacy for the past two years.

Though it appears that it probably won’t happen, Husted deserves to lose.

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6 Comments

  1. Tom, its about to put that GTO artical in the closet. Its been on my computer two days in a row.

    Comment by Lomax Osborne — November 1, 2010 @ 8:55 am

  2. I’m sorry, I don’t understand your comment. Maybe I need more coffee.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 1, 2010 @ 9:05 am

  3. Not voting for Husted, not sure if I’m sitting this one out, or actually pulling the lever for the Dem. I will be voting against DeWine and for Cordray. Will probably regret it down the line, but will be worth it to make that weasel DeWine lose.

    Comment by dave — November 1, 2010 @ 10:57 am

  4. It’s not like you didn’t warn him–a million times!

    Comment by Joe C. — November 1, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

  5. I’m voting for Charles R. Earl, Libertarian. A Secretary of State from neither of the two major parties would be refreshing for election decisions.

    Cordray (D) for Attorney General.

    The rest probably all (R). That includes Yost for Auditor, although there’s a Libertarian choice.

    See your county Board of Elections page for sample ballots. Cheers. :->

    Comment by Cornfed — November 1, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

  6. Cornfed, I think Cordray’s refusal to fight ObamaCare is fatal.

    Comment by TBlumer — November 1, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

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