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MN-08: Home Sweet Where? (Seriously, If You Think Chip Cravaack Lives Here, Read This!)

by keewatinrose on November 4, 2012

In northern Minnesota, where one is from and where one has roots is of great importance to voters, and residency has figured prominently in the race for 8th district congress. While the only constitutional requirement of a U.S. Representative is that one “shall be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen”, there is an expectation by 8th district residents that their congressman actually live in the district.  A recent examination of property records shows that Cravaack is claiming a homestead in two different states, leaving residents wondering exactly where their congressman lives. Thus in the closing days of this nationally watched race,  the question of whether or not Rep. Chip Cravaack lives in the district and meets the residency requirements of the State of Minnesota still remains unanswered.

Chip Cravaack will make the argument that these are last minute attacks. They’re not. In fact, This residency issue has been plaguing Chip Cravaack for almost two years, and for almost two years he has been dismissing it as irrelevant, an odd assertion from one who created the issue during his 2010 campaign when he falsely accused Rep Jim Oberstar of not living here.  Even at this late date in the campaign, those concerned about the residency issue should examine the facts and make their decision accordingly.The record tells us the following:

1. Cravaack owned a home in Lindstrom and a residential lake property in Wisconsin at the time he was elected to Congress in 2010.

2. In July 2011, Cravaack purchased a home in New Hampshire, sold the home in Lindstrom and purchased a new home in North Branch.

3. The mortgage for the home in North Branch contains a rider declaring this property as a second home. His primary home then, is in New Hampshire, where his family now resides.

4. Property tax records reveal that this ‘second home’ in North Branch is classified as 1A Residential Homestead.

5. All property is co-owned by Cravaack and his wife.

The record shows that Cravaack is now claiming two homesteads.

We’ll leave it to the lawyers to determine the technicalities of the voting and tax issues. However, Minnesota statutes do provide some guidance regarding determination of residency for voting, homestead and income tax purposes.

Readers are encouraged to pay specific attention to to the following clauses for determining residency for voting:

(d) if an individual goes into another state or precinct with the intention of making it home or files an affidavit of residence there for election purposes, the individual loses residence in the former precinct; and

(g) if an individual’s family lives in one precinct and the individual lives or does business in another, the individual’s residence is located in the precinct where the individual’s family lives, unless the individual establishes a home in the other precinct and intends to remain there, with or without the individual’s family

and for Homestead eligibility

(a) Residential real estate that is occupied and used for the purposes of a homestead by its owner, who must be a Minnesota resident, is a residential homestead…..Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the Department of Revenue may, upon request from an assessor, verify whether an individual who is requesting or receiving homestead classification has filed a Minnesota income tax return as a resident for the most recent taxable year for which the information is available.

Minnesota Department of Revenue guidelines for determining residency include this statement:

When it comes to determining residency, your words and actions are both considered, but of the two, your actions carry more weight than words.

That Cravaack apparently doesn’t see a problem with his contradictory statements about where he lives should come as no surprise. Air line pilots are notorious for having a rather cavalier attitude towards residency which at times gets them into trouble. The feeling that you live wherever you happen to land at the time may work for them because passengers don’t care where their pilot lives. But this doesn’t work in politics because constituents in the 8th district of Minnesota do care where their congressman lives, and they expect their congressman to live in the district. Residency is a matter of real concern to his constituents whether Cravaack wants to recognize it or not. The fact that he doesn’t seem to get it now indicates he doesn’t understand the district, yet he certainly got it well enough when he relentlessly lobbed false accusations at Chisholm native Jim Oberstar.

How convenient.

Chip Cravaack’s pompous, self righteous indignation over the residency issue exists only because those very same questions are now directed at him. It is the very definition of hypocrisy. Cravaack needs to stop shedding crocodile tears and give his constituents the honest answers they deserve.

The intricacies of residency requirements for voting, taxes and eligibility to run for office are issues for attorneys to argue over. This is not about technicalities of the law. We’re just interested in what’s right and what’s wrong, and it seems wrong that Chip Cravaack is able to claim a homestead in Minnesota while also claiming a primary residence in New Hampshire (a state that has no income tax).

Readers are encouraged to review the record, read the statutes and come to their own conclusions.

Cross posted at Iron Country Free Press

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