Congressman Lives in MD – Represents California

Congressman Pete Stark (D) (MD/CA)

Lord, do they become stupid or are they just born that way?

Bloomberg reports:

A senior member of the U.S. House’s tax-writing Ways and Means Committee from California has been taking advantage of a tax break for a home in Maryland that he claims as his principal residence.

Representative Pete Stark, the second-ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means panel, in 2007 and 2008 saved a total of $3,853 in state and Anne Arundel County taxes on a Maryland waterfront home that he claims as his primary residence, according to Maryland tax disclosures.

So if his primary residence is Maryland, how can he represent the California 13th district – 25 miles southeast of San Francisco? He’s using his wife’s parents’ address who live there. This is completely legal although I’d argue that it defies the spirit of the Constitution.
To serve in the House, the U.S. Constitution says that candidates must be U.S. citizens for at least seven years, an ‘‘inhabitant’’ of the state in which they seek election and 25 years old when their first term would begin. California law says the residence for its House members is determined by where they are registered to vote, which is ‘‘conclusively presumed’’ to be their domicile.

Stark is indeed registered to vote in California – but the 77 year old does not live with his wife’s parents – who are probably younger than he is. A quick Google determined that his wife, Deborah Roderick Stark, graduated high school in 1985, making her 42 years old – 35 years Congressman Stark’s junior. Here’s the screenshot of the website in case the site has been altered. I’m supportive of June-December romances, but using his wife’s parents as a voting address strikes me as pretty weasely for a Democratic pol in the Hope and Change Era.

So to keep the tax break why doesn’t Stark come clean and change his voting address to his 6.35 acre estate on the Chesapeake? Because that would put him on  House Majority Leader’s Steny Hoyer’s turf- assuming that Hoyer in fact lives in his district and isn’t using his wife’s parents’ address too. Hoyer is one of the most powerful Democrats in DC; Stark wouldn’t have a chance if he had to face Hoyer in a primary. It would make more sense for Stark to move his family to San Lorenzo California. It too is on a bay – San Francisco Bay. Granted I doubt that even a wealthy man like Stark could afford 6 acres there but the US Constitution can be a bitch sometimes.

UPDATE: It appears that this story has legs.
The Mercury News reports:

“My message to Pete Stark,” said Ron Nehring, chairman of the California Republican Party, “is that California is a wonderful place to visit — and it’s an even better place to live. He should try doing that.

“It’s an outrage,” Nehring added, “for someone to purport to represent California but take a tax deduction claiming that they don’t live in California.”

The San Francisco Chronicle notes:
The issue for voters in Stark’s 13th Congressional District is whether he remains in sufficient touch with their communities and concerns when he considers his “home” to be 3,000 miles away.

There is an upside to being represented by the gentleman from Maryland. The next time Stark unleashes one of his notorious tirades (such as suggesting that troops were being sent to Iraq to “get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement,” as he did in 2007) or ends up on Esquire Magazine’s list of 10 worst legislators on Capitol Hill (as he did in 1988) ... residents in Alameda, Castro Valley and other parts of the East Bay district can blame their erstwhile homeboy’s bad manners on his East Coast address.

One of the 10 Worst Legislators of 1988?  He won again in 2008! One can almost feel sorry for Chesapeake Pete after Esquire writes “Stark gives bumbling, dyspeptic old fools who say stupid things a bad name.” Ooh snap! Well  I suppose he can take solace in the bosom of his wife who entered kindergarten the year Stark entered Congress.

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