Sunday, September 11, 2005

Mess with the bull...

Last week, The Washington Post ran an article questioning where Karl Rove's legal residency is. For a while, he had been claiming his DC house as a homestead and received a tax break on it. However, in order to receive the homestead exemption in DC, you have to be registered to vote in the district and Rove isn't. So he ended up paying $3,400 in back taxes. Seemingly the end of the story (no one seems interested in pursuing the fact that he was claiming two homesteads, which is blatantly illegal).

As a coda to the article, the reporter looked at where Rove is in fact registered to vote, Kerrville; and it turns out that the basis for his registration is the fact that he owns two exceptionally modest rental properties there. So the reporter wanted to find out if this was legal:

Down in Texas, when you register to vote in a place where you don't actually live, the county prosecutor can come after you for voter fraud, said Elizabeth Reyes, an attorney with the elections division of the Texas Secretary of State. Rove's rental cottage "doesn't sound like a residence to me, because it's not a fixed place of habitation," she said. "If it's just property that they own, ownership doesn't make that a residence."

Still, under state law, the definition of a Texan is really pretty loose, Reyes said, even for voting purposes. So someone would have to file a complaint.

In the end, she said, "Questions of residency are ultimately for the court to decide."

Now, based upon this comment, Reyes has been fired.

Elizabeth Reyes, 30, said she was dismissed last week for violating the agency's media policy after she was quoted in a Sept. 3 story by The Washington Post about tax deductions on Rove's homes in Washington and Texas.

Scott Haywood, a spokesman for Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, confirmed Reyes' firing but wouldn't discuss specifics. He had earlier told the Post that Reyes "was not authorized to speak on behalf of the agency.


Reyes told the Post on Friday a superior told her that her bosses were upset about the article. Williams has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Republicans, including President Bush, who relies heavily on Rove for political strategy.


"The policy allows us to talk to members of the media," she told the Post. "The policy says if it's a controversial issue or a special issue, it needs to be forwarded on to someone else. Just talking to the media doesn't violate it, as I read it. ... Karl Rove didn't come up. It wasn't something you could classify as controversial."

The initial quote does make it sound as if she were referring to his greasy eminence, but that was due to the writer's choice of wording:

The Post ran a correction Saturday saying Reyes had not been asked about Rove by name and that the story should have mentioned Reyes's further explanation that an individual's intent to return to a home owned in Texas is a primary factor in qualifying for residency.

So not only do the administration's tendrils of power attack people with the audacity to criticize Rove, but if a person's comments might possibly reflect badly upon Rove - even if she wasn't talking about him - she better watch her back.

It's good to know that the administration's using its power for such noble ends.

Via Tim Grieve.


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