Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar is running for re-election in a state he has not lived in for over 30 years.
Lugar sold his home at 3200 Highwoods Court in Indianapolis shortly after first assuming office in 1977. But due to a loophole in Indiana law, both he and his wife Charlene Lugar are still registered to vote at that address.
Greg Wright, an Indiana tea party member and certified fraud examiner, told The Daily Caller that he has been investigating Lugar’s residency situation “for a few weeks” and has not been paid for his efforts. He just heard one day from some tea party friends that Lugar didn’t actually live in the state, and took it upon himself to find out if it was true.
Since then Wright has filed a series of inquiries with Indiana officials and dug up more than a dozen documents pertaining to Lugar’s residency, such as voting records and property tax information. But, despite filling out all the necessary paperwork, most of his questions went unanswered, and local papers appeared unwilling to look into the matter.
“Nobody really wants to touch this for one reason or another,” Wright told TheDC.
Richard and Charlene Lugar’s drivers’ licenses, Wright found, say they live at 3200 Highwoods Court even though they have lived in the affluent Washington, D.C. suburb of McLean, Va., for decades. And when Sen. Lugar registered to run for president in 1996, he listed Highwoods Court as his address.
A spokesman for Lugar confirmed to TheDC that he has not owned any property in Indiana since 1977, but said it was still perfectly legal for him to live elsewhere while representing the state.
“He does not have a house in Indiana but that is immaterial to this,” the spokesman said. “This has always been his legal residence in terms of voting and for his driver’s license and everything else.”
“The attorney general for the state of Indiana has made rulings on this in the past,” he said.
Indeed, a 1982 letter to Lugar from then-Indiana Attorney General Linley Pearson said that the senator is not required to actually live in the state he represents because he is acting “on business of this state or of the United States.” According to the Indiana constitution, such persons cannot lose their voting rights in the state.
TheDC was unable to verify Monday evening whether this is also the opinion of Indiana’s current Attorney General, Greg Zoeller, or ascertain how the law applies to Sen. Lugar’s wife.
Lugar’s spokesperson dismissed questions about the senator’s residency as old news that is well known to Indiana’s voters. But the news did come as surprise to Betsy Hughes, the current owner of 3200 Highwoods Court, who did not know Lugar was voting from her address until Wright told her.
“I knew [Lugar] built it,” Hughes told TheDC. “Every now and then we get his mail, and we couldn’t figure out why after all these years we were still getting his mail every now and then. And now we know why.”
“I was surprised, but I was more surprised that no one seemed that interested,” she added.
Hughes, a Republican who has voted for Lugar in the past, said she doesn’t know whether she will vote for him again in the GOP primary, or if his residency situation will impact her decision.
“If it’s illegal then yeah it will make a difference, but if it’s not then he’s within his rights I guess,” she said.
For his part, Wright is concentrating on getting the word out that Lugar no longer lives in Indiana, which he believes to be a genuine scandal.
“It’s just so amazing to me that the elite press has not picked up on this,” Wright said. “It’s just absolutely amazing.”
UPDATE: Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, a Republican, told TheDC late Tuesday afternoon that he agrees with Linley Pearson’s 1982 opinion concerning Lugar’s residency. He did not, however, offer an official opinion on the residency situation of Mrs. Lugar because she is not an elected official.
“We only give legal advice to people in government,” Zoeller said.