An election board in Indiana has disqualified the residency of U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-In., and ruled he is ineligible to vote in this upcoming re-election bid, meaning the longtime lawmaker will have to establish new residency.
The Marion County Election Board voted 2-to-1 along party lines that the six-term Senator was guilty of a non-criminal election violation. According to election board attorneys, Lugar will have to submit a new voter registration application by April 9 that lists a physical address in any Indiana county that he is currently connected with.
For weeks, Lugar has been criticized by the Indiana Democratic Party and his Republican primary challenger, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, over the issue. He currently lives in northern Virginia around the Washington, D.C. area and has not owned a home in Indiana since first being elected to office in 1977.
“Senator Lugar has admitted he doesn’t have a home in Indiana and that he lives in hotels at taxpayer expense when he returns. Today’s ruling highlights the need for Senator Lugar to disclose how much of a penalty he asks Hoosier taxpayers to pay because of his refusal to live in Indiana,” says Democratic Party spokesman Ben Ray.
The Senator has defended the practice by pointing to a loophole in state law and several other legal opinions he has received over the years that protected his residency status. Piling on, Lugar’s GOP primary challenger issued a blistering statement saying the commission’s decision puts his entire tenure in office into question.
“The fact that Senator Lugar hired a team of high-priced lawyers to fight for his right to use a legal technicality so that he doesn’t have to live among Hoosiers just proves our point about how out of touch he is. Our position on this issue has always been clear: regardless of how he is registered to vote, the U.S. Constitution requires Senator Lugar to be an ‘inhabitant’ of the state to be elected. Currently, he is not.”
The Senator’s office promised to appeal the decision and denounced with the board’s “political” decision.