Politicians rail against “Washington” as if they were outsiders, but sometimes, Washington is their true home, and they only go to their “home” state when it is politically expedient. Within limits, that is permissible. But Congressman Robert Wexler has flouted those limits, practicing residency fraud and extreme hypocrisy.
Wexler lives in a Washington suburb, but lists as his residence a retirement community in south Florida where his in-laws live, but where Wexler and his own family cannot live because it’s a 55-and-older community. (Article I, section 2 of the Constitution prescribes that a Congressman “when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”) That is deceitful and fraudulent.
There is also a big element of hypocrisy in all this. Wexler’s office has demonized citizens for not disclosing where they live on a daily basis, insisting that ordinary citizens not be allowed to list any place other than their current actual abode as their address, even if they have justifiable reasons for doing so, like personal security, and even if their listing an alternative address makes no difference (for example, if the address listed is in the same precinct as their actual abode).
For example, the conservative author and pundit Ann Coulter, who had been stalked for years by mentally-unbalanced admirers and detractors, followed advice to conceal her actual address by registering to vote at a house just up the street from her actual address, in the very same precinct. She had actually spent nights at the address she listed, and received her mail at that house, based on advice from the FBI. (Many states have laws that allow domestic violence victims to list a mailing address rather than their actual address for voting purposes, but such laws generally don’t extend to victims whose stalkers are strangers rather than intimates).
But when Wexler’s office found out about this, they screamed that this was voting fraud, and did everything they could to try to get the (liberal) local prosecutor to indict Coulter. For more than two years, Wexler’s staff publicly and repeatedly branded Coulter a felon for not registering to vote under her actual daily abode. They did so even though she did not violate the law, since the address she listed was in the same precinct as her actual daily abode.
But Wexler apparently feels no shame about misstating his address by over a thousand miles, pretending to live in Florida while actually living near Washington, D.C. (If Wexler actually admitted where he lives, there might be financial consequences. The Maryland suburb where Wexler actually lives (Montgomery County) has a state-and-local income tax rate of about 9 percent. Florida, where he falsely claims to live, has no state or local income tax).