Mayor 2012: Charlie Hales residency question - serious issue or cheap shot?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

In the Oregonian, Dave Lister took mayoral candidate Charlie Hales to task for the recent revelations that Hales was an Oregon resident for voting purposes while he was a Washington resident for tax-paying purposes:

Charlie Hales could have made it easy on himself. When he announced his candidacy for mayor of Portland, he could have disclosed that he'd been a Washington resident for a few years.

He could have simply explained that he moved into his new bride's home in Stevenson and lived there for a time before returning to Portland. No one would have taken him to task for making that perfectly reasonable decision.

The problem is, he didn't disclose it. That failure opens him to accusations of moving to Washington to avoid Oregon taxes. The fact that he continued to cast an Oregon ballot because he owned a home here while living in Washington indicates he wanted to enjoy Washington's tax structure but still have a say in Oregon elections. That he seemed to believe the subject wouldn't come up shows him to be politically naive and makes me wonder if he's unsuited for the knife fight that will be the upcoming mayor's race. As with Chris Dudley in the last governor's race, the residency issue will remain a dark cloud over his campaign, putting Hales on the perpetual defense.

In response, Hales sent an email to supporters titled "Enough Already!":

I guess when people consider you the front-runner, you should expect some cheap shots. But this has gone far enough. Nancy and I were appalled to read David Lister's "guest column" in the Oregonian this morning, and I bet you were too. It was both mean-spirited and untrue.

Hales also included an editorial response from long-time environmental activist and attorney Gail Achterman (bio). An excerpt:

Dave Lister's column about Charlie Hales was a bit over the top. I find his personal attacks on Charlie's integrity to be both misplaced and distasteful. Yes, Charlie was a legal Washington resident for a few years. Why? Because he married a Washington resident and moved into her house with her and her children while they were going to school. After the kids went off to college, Charlie moved back to Portland and Nancy came with him. And the Oregon Election Division agrees that he qualified to vote in Oregon while his principal residence was in Washington. This is a non-issue.

What do you think? Is it an issue?

Comments

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    If he'd quit in the middle of his term and moved to Bend, it would still be an issue for me, regardless of the tax piece. For the same reason that having moved his business, I'd have a problem with Dave Lister running for mayor or council again. I expect those who want to lead this city, to care enough to live in this city. By quitting mid-term, Mr. Hales demonstrated that he didn't care enough about this city to finish the job he committed to; by moving out of the area, he demonstrated his lack of commitment to this city (saving himself from paying a variety of taxes that the rest of us paid).

    So while I don't begrudge him his decision, it suggests that his run for mayor is more about him than it is about any commitment to this city.

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    I missed the part where you can vote in Oregon while your principal residence is in Washington. If this is truly legal then I see no issue. He didn't move solely for tax reasons like Dudley, but because of family. My only issue was voting in one state and being a resident in another.

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      I agree John ... how would you retain the right to vote? still and all Dudley paid alot more Oregon tax than Hales did. Doesn't it make more sense to look at the person's overall contributions to the welfare of the state throughout his career than to take grasp onto something like this and use it to divine someone's loyalty, integrity, commitment to this state and character? The Dudley outrage was manufactured and so is this.

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    Whether or not it is a "serious" issue or not, it seems like it will be an issue. Residency issues have had an impact on many Oregon campaigns including Senators Packwood and Wyden and let's not forget ol' Wes Cooley and his travel trailer in eastern Oregon. There was also a GOP candidate in Washington County just outside a House district recently, but I can't for the life of me remember his name.

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    I think Dave Lister was making the point that Hales should be held to the same standard as Dudley was. Of course double standards are typical in partisan politics, but the point was still valid.

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      Hales didn't move to Washington on advice of his tax advisor that Dudley himself stated was the motive. I think that there are some issues about commitment to the city, etc. that are raised by his quitting mid-term when he was not he council before, that are legitimate. So I do not think this is as similar to the Dudley situation that you want to make it out to be.

      For the record, I have not yet deiced in the early of a the race to pick a horse I support, though I am certainly looking for any credible candidate as a option in lieu of an Adams second term.

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    Is it an issue legally? No.

    Is it an issue politically? Sure, in politics anything is fair game (not saying that's right, just stating a fact).

    He could have stopped a lot of the talk before it started by talking about the move when he announced his candidacy. But he didn't, so now he's got to waste time playing clean up/catch up.

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    If Oregon Elections Divisions has determined this is not a problem then what is the point of this report?

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    Issue? Yes. The question is not why he moved in with his new spouse in Washington, new marriage, I get that. But why not vote and file your taxes in Oregon if you really believe in supporting the services that Oregonians (and Portlanders) have shown are important to our way of life?

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    Charlie’s residency stuff should be a complete non-issue. He married a woman who lived north of the river and respected her desire not to move out of her existing house immediately. So, he spent a few years splitting time between two different residences. That is totally reasonable. It had nothing to do with avoiding taxes or not caring about Portland. It had everything to do with love. Furthermore, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office and the Oregon Department of Revenue said he abided by the rules. If it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for the rest of us.

    I think it’s time for all of us to move pasted this media-hyped, non-issue and get back to talking about what really matters in this mayoral race: who has the experience and the wherewithal to get this great city back on course.

  • (Show?)

    OK, so here's the relevant guidelines from the Oregon Department of Revenue.

    Seems to me that Hales would qualify as a "special-case Oregon resident" since he says he was "an Oregon resident who maintained a permanent home outside Oregon the entire year".

    In that case, he should have filed a Form 40N - per these guidelines.

    Did he?

  • (Show?)

    But the voting requirements are a little different it seems. Here they are from OregonLaws.org

    note (f)

    An elections official may consider, but is not limited to considering, the following factors in determining residency of a person for voter registration purposes: (a) Where the person receives personal mail; (b) Where the person is licensed to drive; (c) Where the person registers motor vehicles for personal use; (d) Where any immediate family members of the person reside; (e) The address from which the person pays for utility services; and (f) The address from which the person files any federal or state income tax returns. [Formerly 250.410; 1995 c.214 §1]

    Personally, if the IRS and the elections division had full knowledge and said he could pay taxes in Washington and vote in Oregon then it is a non-issue. Did that happen? If not, it is an issue.

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    This is an issue, and the way that Hales is responding to it makes it a bigger issue.

    Also, on the same note, I don't think anyone ever considered him to be the front-runner.

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    For me this is a non-issue. I lean towards supporting Adams, but look forward to other candidates, like Hales, making their cases.

    I'd prefer to let the regulators deal with the legal issues here and for the campaigns to be more about Portland's future.

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    Is this issue like Dudley's? I thought the issue with Dudley was avoidance of taxes. I'm assuming Hales paid Oregon taxes?

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      That appears to be an open question.

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        I don't think that is an open question. I think he said he's now going to go back and file Oregon tax returns for those years in order to make his tax returns consistent with his voter registration.

        It is amusing to read the contortions people are going through trying to distinquish this situation from Chris Dudley's. I don't live in Portland but if I did, this would be a nonissue to me in deciding who would make the best mayor.

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          Hmmm. I don't think I've heard Hales say that. I think he said he was going to ask his accountant to determine what he should do, not that he's already determined that.

          That said, I haven't been following every twist and turn here.

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          Thank you! Jack! lol!, However, those contortions most of the people here are going thru is the painful dance of the hypocrite who less than 1 year ago excoriated Dudley when they thought he may have taken advantage of the differences in the OR and WA tax codes to make a smart financial decision based upon a set of facts not that different from these. I have a residence in Washington and one in Oregon and it has always been my understanding if I didn't live in Oregon then I wasn't eligible to vote here either. Intuitively, owning a home in OR and living in WA doesn't = being able to vote in OR. As far as Hales quitting 1/2 way through his term, please don't forget how you all reacted to Sarah Palin's decision to do the same thing. All of the anticipated (and you didn't disappoint me) hypocrisy aside it was a non issue when Dudley did it and it's a non issue when Hales did it. As long as he meets the eligibility criteria to run for mayor when he is required too then he is a valid candidate. I personally refuse to endow anyone with motives based upon speculation. He wouldn't be my first choice to be the next mayor but anyone is better than Adams...who should have fallen on his sword (or kept it in his pants around children) along time ago.

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      Jennifer, while I agree with your message, in this case Charlie was living in Washington and his step children were going to school there. It was right for him to pay property and sales taxes in Washington. Of course if he earned income in Oregon then it would be taxed in Oregon. What I do not understand is why he voted in Oregon during that period and why that is considered ok by the voting authorities.

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    Not a Portland resident so it matters little. I also enjoy reading the metal gymnastics of those trying to differentiate Hale's actions from Dudley's. If he really was a Washington resident then his vehicles would have been transferred there and he would be able to show transfer papers and licensing fees. If not, then he moved to benefit from the no income tax status of Washington and theno sales tax status of nearby Portland as well as lower vehicle licensing fees.

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      I believe one of the WWeek pieces said his car was licensed in Washington.

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      Hey Kurt (and Jack Roberts), can you point us to some place where folks are trying to differentiate Hales from Dudley?

      That hasn't been part of this thread (yet), and I'm curious what folks are saying.

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    I am not a Portland resident and I don't know if Hales should have disclosed this. But, that being said, IMO, when you run for public office, you are under a microscope and need to answer for everything, regardless of whether or not you think it's relevant. I think Hales' response does not bode well as to how he will manage/govern. I think he could have handled it better by saying something to the effect that he did nothing wrong or whatever. Just tell the truth up front. When I hear the "oh, boohoo, they're picking on me, I'm a victim..." response, it makes me wonder if there's some truth to the issue and the candidate is trying to hide something. As to the response by Gail Acherton, I wonder if she is speculating. Does she know all this for a fact?

  • (Show?)

    want to make sure I understand what people are arguing here.

    If you marry a person who lives in Washington, and you move to Washington, you should continue to pay Oregon taxes on income not earned in Oregon to "show your commitment" to Oregon?

    I want to know which of you would actually do this?

    This is completely unlike Chris Dudley. Charlie Hales did not maintain a house in Oregon and live in it regularly but have an address in Washington for tax purposes.

    This is NOT an issue where someone moved because their accountant told them to do so.

    And seriously, folks, do we need someone managing Portland's budget right now who told their accountant to spend 9% more of their family budget because of symbolic political position taking?

    He remarried and moved. And then moved back. Why is this an issue?

    This is completely absurd. Charlie Hales should be judged on his political stands while serving in Council and his political positions now.

    • (Show?)

      I don't think anyone made a serious issue of his tax status ir situation...no one but he knows the answer to that ~ really, it's just speculation. From where I sit, it is a questions of his integrity and ethics. If you are registered to vote in Oregon you swear you are a resident. If you have a drivers license or your vehicles are registered here, you are certifying you are an Oregon resident. And it's a matter of taking the heat if you screwed up or being transparent, if you are called on something. If he's done nothing wrong, he should give the back story. The "its not my fault, my accountant told me to" is bunk. That's not the sign of someone I would trust to lead, govern or manage.

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    This is a test. Please ignore.

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    This is all a matter of gossip and speculation because candidates have just announced and none have as yet produced positions on the issues that really matter. Political wonks need something to blog about, and in the absence of real,issues, will pick on irrelevancies. Portland is a world class city, and should have a world class mayor. For the past couple of go-rounds we have not. Charlie demonstrated his commitment and competency as a city commissioner. Go check his record.

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