State Sen. Napoleon Harris owns a house befitting a former NFL linebacker and successful businessman: a $400,000 residence in an upscale subdivision in south suburban Flossmoor.
But Harris says he lives and votes from 10 miles away in blighted Harvey, residing in a town house on the pothole-pitted stretch of road that runs behind a strip mall that houses his district office and one of his Beggar’s Pizza franchises. […]
Recent visits to the town house showed the shades drawn shut or blocked by newspapers and campaign signs taped to the glass. The city Water Department said water service had been activated in April but would not say whose name was on the account or how long the building had been without water previously. A building permit for “patching holes,” which expired in May, was posted in the front window. […]
When it comes to his upcoming election, barring a lawsuit, Harris’ residency may not even matter. He is running unopposed for his second term. Any challenge to the residency of a candidate must take place during the run-up to the primary election, and Harris’ address has not been challenged in either of his runs for the 15th District seat, said Ken Menzel, deputy general counsel for the state Board of Elections.
On a recent afternoon, a woman answered the door of Harris’ Flossmoor house, but declined to give her name. The woman, who strongly resembled photos posted online of the senator’s wife, Nicole, said the senator was not home.
* Look, residency is a tricky thing here. It’s all about intent, as we learned during the Rahm Emanuel ordeal. But according to the Tribune, Harris’ drivers license still lists his outside the district address. And he’s still getting a homestead exemption on that same out of district house.
And there’s also the issue of his statement of candidacy. Candidates must swear an oath that their residency information is true and that they are a “qualified voter” in the district. Get caught blatantly violating that oath and you can go to prison.
Remember this story?…
A state lawmaker who didn’t live in the district she represents was found guilty of using fake addresses on re-election paperwork and voter registration cards, and must resign.
Rep. Patricia Bailey was found guilty Tuesday of election fraud and perjury after a one-day trial.
“You never had a heat, electric, a telephone, a cable bill,” Cook County Judge Diane Gordon-Cannon told the Chicago Democrat. “You never lived for 30 minutes inside your district.”
Bailey, 52, first elected in 2002, faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Dec. 21. She wouldn’t comment as she left the courtroom.
Bailey’s downfall came when it was revealed that there wasn’t even a liveable residence at the address she used on her statement of candidacy.
Many moons ago, former state Rep. Ellis Levin faced accusations that he didn’t live in his district. The apartment where he supposedly lived was pretty much empty. He eventually survived the residency challenge (if memory serves, he lost the first round, because I ran the headline “Levin gets the hook”), but he lost his primary to Sara Feigenholtz.
So, again, it’s about intent and state law is pretty darned lenient. Bailey couldn’t actually intend to live in a place that didn’t actually exist. You gotta go pretty far to violate that particular law here. It doesn’t look like Harris has gone that far.
But, still, Sen. Harris really should, um, “address” this issue. And soon.