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Local politics

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Critics challenging Lugar’s state residency

Websites since mid-February have been questioning whether Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., has a home in his home state.

This week, Paul K. Ogden, an attorney and self-described conservative Republican, claimed on his blog, Ogden on Politics, that Lugar has been voting absentee by using the address of an Indianapolis house he no longer owns.

“For the past 41 years he has continued to vote using that house’s address even though it appears to have been deeded away years ago, is currently owned by someone else, and there is another family registered at the address,” Ogden wrote.

Lugar’s re-election campaign said Wednesday in a statement that Lugar “remains a Hoosier in the eyes of the law.”

According to the statement, Lugar’s residency status is upheld by both the U.S. and Indiana constitutions.

The statement said Indiana law “provides that a person is not considered to have lost his or her residence in a precinct solely by virtue of being absent in service to Indiana or to the nation. Senator Lugar’s last place of residence in Indiana prior to leaving to serve in the Senate remains his proper voting precinct according to Indiana law.”

Lugar’s Senate staff produced a 1982 letter from then-Indiana Attorney General Linley Pearson to Lugar that said, in part, “If such a person was entitled to vote in this state prior to departing for service in Congress, whatever residence that person possessed for voting purposes prior to such departure remains his or her residence. There is no requirement that such a person maintain a house, apartment, or any fixed physical location.”

Lugar lives in McLean, Va., a suburb of Washington. He owns a farm in Marion County.

Warsaw resident Monica Boyer, a member of tea party groups hoping to unseat Lugar, said in an interview: “Regardless of where he votes, wherever that is, we haven’t seen him in years. It’s been 13 years since he has been in Warsaw. His heart isn’t here.”

Lugar has been in the Senate since 1977. He is being challenged in the 2012 Republican primary election by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

Mourdock campaign spokesman Christopher Carter declined to comment on the residency question and Lugar’s response to it.

In February, a writer for the website RealClearPolitics reported that Lugar senior adviser Mark Helmke confirmed that Lugar stays in hotels when he is in Indiana.

Last week, a Hamilton County grand jury indicted Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White on felony charges of voter fraud and perjury. White is accused of voting in a precinct where he did not live.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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