It’s certainly not unusual for congressmen to own homes within the boundaries of the districts they represent and actually live somewhere else.
But usually our elected officials at least live in the same state they are supposed to be representing in Congress.
Rep. Robert Wexler, representing the 19th district of Florida, officially identifies his primary residence as the Delray Beach, Florida home of Lawrence and Roslyn Cohen, his in-laws. Both Wexler and his wife claim that address as their residence for voting registration and for their drivers’ licenses. But neither actually lives there.
Records also show that the six-term Democrat, serving as Barack Obama’s Florida campaign chairman, owns a home in Rockville, Md., where his three teenage children attend private school.
Wexler’s in-laws’ home is in a gated, seniors-only community. Wexler’s challengers in the November general election say it’s improper for Wexler and his wife to claim residency at the Cohens’ three-bedroom home, particularly because seniors-only deed restrictions would prevent Wexler’s three children from living there for more than two months each year.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Wexler attempted to commute between South Florida and Washington when he was sworn into Congress in 1997, but records show Wexler sold his home in South Florida that same year and moved his wife, two daughters and a son from their house to one in Maryland.
Wexler is Florida’s only member of Congress who does not own a home in his congressional district. He has admitted the only house he owns is in Maryland and that he uses his in-laws’ house to meet residency requirements.
Now his general election challengers are urging investigations into whether Wexler meets residency requirements to be registered to vote and run for office and if he has violated that state’s income tax laws.
Ed Lynch, Wexler’s Republican challenger, said “For all purposes, he’s not really living in Florida. And if you’re not actually living there, you’re not adequately representing the district.”
According to Montgomery County, Md. public records, Wexler lists his Maryland home as primary residency from 1997 to 2004.
When asked by a Fox News reporter in the frontyard of his Maryland home last week, “So you don’t live here?” Wexler skirted the question and replied “I own this house along with my wife, yes, of course.” He also claimed that his primary residence is Delray and admitted his in-laws own the house.
A HUMAN EVENTS call to Wexler’s office requesting information about his residency and tax forms was not returned yesterday. Wexler did issue a public statement last week condemning the reports of his faux residency: “From the very beginning, I have been open with my constituents about my decision to move my family to the Washington area where I spend the majority of my time. I have discussed this publicly for years and have even written about it my own book… Many members of Congress own property in the Washington area, many raise their children in the Washington area, and many like myself cannot afford to own two homes.”
It’s all well and good for the Congressman to want to be closer to his family, it’s not so noble if he’s dodging income taxes in the process. Or if he’s engaged in voting fraud by claiming a residence that isn’t really where he lives.
There’s more than a little irony in the fact that it was Wexler who attacked HUMAN EVENTS legal correspondent Ann Coulter, repeatedly accusing her of voting fraud because she used another address to register though she lived in another in the same congressional district. (Coulter’s action was taken for her personal safety.)
If Wexler lives in Maryland, he has to pay property taxes in that state. But if he claims Florida as his residence – without living there – he may well be committing tax fraud. Does he pay Maryland state income tax?
Florida does not have income tax, and there is a federal law that no other state than the one that a congressional member represents can charge that person income taxes.
The question comes down to whether he has paid income taxes in Maryland. If he has, then he apparently is falsely claiming Florida residence. If he doesn’t pay Maryland tax and claims Florida residence with, as Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund put it on the O’Reilly Factor, “an address of convenience in Delray Beach,” then Maryland probably has a massive claim for back taxes against him.
It’s too much to expect him to apologize to Ms. Coulter.