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Thursday, May 18, 2006

CA-50: Is Brian Bilbray's Candidacy Illegal?

Posted by James L.

Democrats in CA-50 dropped a bombshell on Wednesday, charging that Brian Bilbray, the Republican candidate to replace disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham in the June 6th special election, does not live in the district. Bilbray claims that he and his wife live with his mother in Carlsbad, which is within CA-50. However, local Democrats, including North County Party Chair Jess Durfee, have uncovered documents which indicate otherwise:

Virginia property records show Bilbray claims a home in Alexandria, Va., as his primary residence, for tax purposes.


Even Bilbray's neighbors think otherwise:

Neighbors told 10News they rarely ever see Bilbray at the house, which is his mother’s home.

“He comes here occasionally to see his mother like boys will do, but he doesn't live here,” said neighbor Frank Knudsen.

“If he does live here, he must leave late at night and come back early in the morning,” said neighbor Bill Rider.

Another man, who lives right next door, said he wondered when people would catch on that Bilbray does not live here.

Whatever the case, his ambiguous legal residency fits nicely into the DCCC's efforts to paint Bilbray as a representative of DC-centric lobbyists rather than the 50th CD. Going into the home stretch, Democrat Francine Busby has got to be pleased with this break.

UPDATE (DavidNYC): Rick Hasen writes in to say that CA can't impose a residency requirement stricter than that found in the Constitution, which mandates only that a candidate be a resident at the time of election. Hence, he thinks there is nothing illegal about Bilbray's candidacy.

Posted at 02:15 PM in 2006 Elections - House, California | Technorati

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Taking after Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Dick Cheney, I see. Lying comes so naturally to these people, it's hardly any surprise that they don't think twice about it when it comes to their residencies.

The very last line of the piece is the bombshell, though:

If Bilbray lives in Virginia, he may not be eligible to run for the congressional seat here.

Wow. Talk about burying the lede. If this really happens, it would make what Charlie Wilson did look like locking your keys inside your car by comparison.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 02:54 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Oh, this is choice. Lying to scam Virginia on college tuition and lying to scam California for power and position, especially using your mother and your kids in the process. Bilbray is beginning to sound like a Duke Cunningham kinda guy.
If Busby needed anymore oomph to her "Washington Lobbyist" painting of Bilbray, she just got it beaucoup.
Nice that it may still fresh in people's minds that De Lay could no longer run in Texas because he claimed Alexandria, Virginia as his primary residence.

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 04:09 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Although there is no "durational residency" requirement to be a candidate for US Congress in California, it would seem clear to me that he can't be claiming and benefitting from both jurisdictions at the same time. Here's the CA Secty of State Link on the rules for candidate qualifications FYI:

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 04:23 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I've always thought that an actual legal challenge in these cases wasn't a good idea. It would make Busby look too petty, like she was trying to win through the courts and deny voters a choice.

But this will make for killer attack ads, not to mention great press coverage. I wonder if there's some legal document where Bilbray affirmed VA as his residency that the DCCC could turn into a direct mail piece.

Posted by: dantheman [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 11:54 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Busby isn't pushing this - the SD County Dem Party is. Always good to have surrogates do this kind of thing.

Also, as to what Predictor is saying: Yes, there is a legal difference between your "residence" and your "domicile." Your residence is just where you happen to live right now; your domicile is your permanent home - the place to which you intend to return when you are not there.

That PDF link says that a candidate must be a "resident." However, the terms residency and domicile are often mixed up, and there can definitely be such things as "residency requirements." For example, if you want to pay in-state tuition in the UC system, you have to meet certain residency requirements. I don't know what, if any, these might be for running for office.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 18, 2006 11:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Some clarifications for you from a San Diego local. For starters, there is no North County Democratic Party. The City of San Diego is located in the County of San Diego. Because the county is large (at least by eastern US standards), portions of the county outside of most of the city are referred to by locals as North County, East County, and South Bay. Jess Durfee is the Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party (SDCDP). The CA-50 District is located completely within the county - in the north part of the city and in North County above the city.

It is true that California law requires only that candidates be residents of the state, not of the district. One of the 18 candidates on the ballot back on April 11 was not even a resident of the county, and it was perfectly legal. I also believe that the only other Democrat on that ballot, Chris Young, resided just outside and north of the district in Oceanside. Of course, actually residing in the district in a real and permanent or long-term fashion creates a more positive image of any candidate, but it isn't required by California law.

Most importantly, according to the local news, the SDCDP is not challenging whether he is legally a candidate. According to the SD Union-Tribune article this morning, "It's rare for any kind of legal-residency challenge to succeed in politics." Instead, "...in this case the Democrats are questioning whether Bilbray broke the law in the way he filled out residency documents." They are asking for investigations into whether Bilbray committed perjury by stating three different residences on different legal documents around the same time. Bilbray allegedly has claimed his Imperial Beach (South Bay) and his Virginia home as primary residences on legal documents and applications in addition to registering to vote at his mother's home in North County.

The issue of his mother's home is a bit cloudy to me as a legal issue. I'm not sure that California requires the address where you are registered to vote to be your home. I believe (but don't hold me to it, I haven't checked with the county registrar) that it has to be a location where you can receive mail. Thus homeless are able to register to vote without a permanent residence. The issue in this instance appears to me to be that he is telling the public that he resides there when, for all practical purposes, he does not. However, such public statements seem to make lies of his other officially declared permanent residences.

Bilbray has gotten a lot of bad buzz about this!

Posted by: phonatic [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 03:22 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I dont believe that there are residency requirements. One document that frequently trips up candidates though is that they will apply for homestead credits or mortgage exemptions available only for the primary residence of the home owners.

Posted by: IndyDan [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 08:51 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

There is no doubt that he'll remain on the ballot, but the question of his ethics regarding all this has been brought to the forefront, i.e. working both sides of the street with IRS, College Tuition, what was reported to Cal Secty State.
It certainly doesn't make him look like a "clean" replacement for ole Duke.

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 02:32 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

BTW, Busby's got a poll on her website showing her at 47%, Bilbray 40%, 12% undecided, dated 5/17:

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 02:39 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Looks like Bilbray does have an active fight from the right in the gop primary:

"Hauf steps into ring in fight for Cunningham's old seat
By Dani Dodge

May 16, 2006

Republican Brian Bilbray won't be only fending off blows from his left as he attempts to win the 50th Congressional District seat: A millionaire businessman will be taking shots at him from the right.

Just not the millionaire everyone expected.

Yesterday, Bill Hauf announced he would challenge the former congressman for the Republican party nomination saying Bilbray is too liberal for the district.

The announcement came one week after wealthy businessman Eric Roach declined to take on Bilbray."
continued here:

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 05:55 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

California Elections Code does require that you be registered to vote in order to run for office. If Bilbray's voter registration was fraudulent, that could disqualify him as a candidate. Section 8001 of the California Elections Code says, in part,

8001. (a) No declaration of candidacy for a partisan office... shall be filed, by a candidate unless... at the time of presentation of the declaration... the candidate is shown by his affidavit of registration to be affiliated with the political party the nomination of which he seeks...

The affidavit of registration is required to contain the following:

2150. (a)... (3) The affiant's place of residence...
(b) The affiant shall certify the content of the affidavit as to its truth and correctness, under penalty of perjury...

Among the methods for determining residence is this one in section 2031 of the California Elections Code:

2031. If a person has more than one residence and that person maintains a homeowner's property tax exemption on the dwelling of one of the residences pursuant to Section 218 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the residence subject to the homeowner's property tax exemption is that person's domicile. However, this presumption shall not apply in the event any other residence is listed as the person's current residence address on any driver's license, identification card or vehicle registration issued to that person by, and on file with, the Department of Motor Vehicles.

There is no difference between domicile and residence for voting purposes in the California Elections Code, but it is possible to have additional residences not for voting purposes. Section 349 states,

349. (a) "Residence" for voting purposes means a person's domicile.
(b) The domicile of a person is that place in which his or her habitation is fixed, wherein the person has the intention of remaining, and to which, whenever he or she is absent, the person has the intention of returning. At a given time, a person may have only one domicile.
(c) The residence of a person is that place in which the person's habitation is fixed for some period of time, but wherein he or she does not have the intention of remaining. At a given time, a person may have more than one residence.

Posted by: Richard M. Mathews [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 22, 2006 06:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment