Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 @ 5:35 AM
Updated: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 @ 5:35 AM
DAYTON, Ohio -- The Montgomery County Board of Elections attorney will review voting residency laws before the board decides if it will move forward on an investigation of Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted, R-Kettering.
The four-person board has asked for the legal review after member Dennis Lieberman, a Democrat, said an Oct. 18 Dayton Daily News article raised questions about Husted's residency and voter registration.
"I think we have an obligation to look into it," Lieberman said.
Republican board members Jim Nathanson and Greg Gantt, county party chairman and chairman of the board, both referred to an investigation of Husted as a "witch hunt." Nathanson said he does not think it "serves anyone" to look into Husted's residency this close to the election.
Husted, elected to the House in 2000, said, "if they haven't filed a complaint (then) they must not think there is a problem."
He is running for a Senate seat from the 6th District against Centerville School Board member John Doll, a Democrat.
The deadline to remove names from the ballot has passed, but the board can review the validity of Husted's voter registration.
A legislator must be a legal resident of his district and can be forced to forfeit the seat if he is not.
Ohio law on residency for voting purposes says a person's residence is the "place where the family of a married person resides."
Husted has been dogged by questions about his residency for several years because he stays with his wife and children in Upper Arlington and is rarely seen at his home in Kettering, 148 Sherbrooke Drive.
He is registered to vote in Montgomery County. His wife, Tina, is registered in Upper Arlington. Jon Husted voted absentee every time he cast a ballot since 2005 and voted in person every time prior to that, according to Montgomery County board of elections records.
Since their marriage in 2005, the Husteds have simultaneously owned or co-owned properties that they've called "principal residences" and received 2.5 percent property tax reductions allowed for owner-occupied homes. The law states that a couple can take the tax break on only one house. Neither Husted applied for an exception.
On Friday, Franklin County Auditor Joe Testa said Tina Husted should repay a tax break the Husteds claimed on the Columbus condominium she and Jon co-owned as a "principal residence" at the same time she got a $207.46 tax break on a different home she owned.
Husted said he and his wife have now repaid $27.22 to the auditor, who told him there are no other problems. Testa could not be reached for comment. Husted said Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith informed him "everything is fine" in this county.
However, Keith said he's only verified that the tax break was properly taken on the Kettering home since 1995 and that Husted is registered to vote there. He said it is up to Testa to review that information for possible conflicts with Tina's tax breaks. Keith said he will continue his inquiry.
As of last week, the couple was renting a home at 2672 Coventry Road in Upper Arlington. Husted would not directly say if they moved over the weekend to a house Tina owns at 2305 Haverford Road, Upper Arlington.
"We are no longer renting the Coventry and the only Columbus residence or Columbus property that we own, that my wife owns, is the property on Haverford," Husted said.
(Article courtesy of www.daytondailynews.com)