Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicago Politics: Emanuel Back on the Mayoral Ballot

Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former Chief of Staff, wanted to run for Mayor of Chicago. That would seem to be straight forward since Emanuel is from Chicago but nothing is really that simple. Several of his political opponents filed a lawsuit against Emanuel appearing on the ballot because they claim that he did not comply with a state statute requiring his presence in Chicago for a year prior to the election.

The question is whether he lost residency when he moved away from Chicago to serve as Chief of Staff for President Obama.
Emanuel’s attorneys are expected to use Lampkin’s dissenting opinion to appeal the case to the Illinois Supreme Court. In today’s ruling, Hoffman wrote: “We ... order that the candidate’s name be excluded (or if, necessary, be removed) from the ballot from Chicago’s Feb. 22, 2011.”

Emanuel had won two previous rulings — by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners and a Cook County judge. The case was appealed to the appellate court, which handed down the ruling before noon Monday.

Opponents have argued Emanuel is not a resident of Chicago because he rented out his North Side home while serving as chief of staff to Obama. The renter —Rob Halpin — refused to allow Emanuel to move back in after Mayor Daley’s announcement last year that he would not seek re-election. Halpin briefly ran for mayor himself.
His opponents in Chicago may have a point if he doesn't meet the necessary residency requirements as Illinois law requires candidates for municipal offices be a resident of the city for a year prior to elections. Emanuel, who resigned as White House chief of staff last year to run for mayor, was challenged on the issue by several Chicago residents. It becomes a timing issue, and whether he was a resident of Chicago for the year necessary to qualify or not.

The Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision found that Emanuel didn't comply with the statute. Emanuel probably figured that he didn't lose residency because he never intended to give up his domicile - and thought he could simply return to Chicago without having any problem with the time. However, when he stopped renting in Chicago that was used as a defining date by the court to rule that he had given up domicile.

The problem is that Emanuel continued paying property taxes on the Hermitage house property, had an Illinois drivers license, and otherwise made no actions that would indicate he gave up his residency (from the decision):
At all relevant times, including the time he was in
Washington, D.C., the candidate continued to pay property taxes for
the Hermitage house, continued to hold an Illinois driver’s license
listing the Hermitage house as his address, continued to list the
Hermitage house address on his personal checks, and continued to
vote with the Hermitage house as his registered voting address.
I don't understand how they could have ruled the other way, and to me the dissent's opinion is the more persuasive. This is typically the kind of standard that would show that a taxpayer did not give up domicile or residency and was therefore subject to tax by a given jurisdiction.

The majority's framing of the opinion shows that they ignored the very provision that they were ruling upon:
The issues in this appeal distill essentially to two: whether
the candidate meets the Municipal Code’s requirement that he have
"resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the
election" (65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-5(a) (West 2008)), and, if not, whether
he is exempt from that requirement under the Election Code
provision stating that "no elector *** shall be deemed to have lost
his or her residence *** by reason of his or her absence on
business of the United States" (10 ILCS 5/3-2 (West 2008)).
Even if the court mistakenly found against Emanuel on the first part - that he didn't reside in Chicago for the applicable time, he was still protected by the second part - he should not have lost residence by reason of business of the United States. He was the President's Chief of Staff and working in furtherance of the business of the United States.

I don't think it's an overreach to say that the Chief of Staff is a position doing the business of the United States. He's the right hand man for the President of the United States. You don't get much closer to the business of the United States than that.

Yet, it should be clear that both sides knew that all the lower court rulings were never going to be the last word. This was a case destined for the state supreme court.

Today, the Illinois Supreme Court has made an initial ruling to put Rahm Emanuel's name back on the Chicago mayoral ballot. They have yet to decide whether to take Emanuel's appeal of the Court of Appeals decision issued yesterday that said that Emanuel was ineligible to run for Mayor since he was not in Chicago for the requisite time period.
Less than 24 hours after an Illinois appeals court bumped Rahm Emanuel off the ballot for Chicago's election for mayor, the state's supreme court put that ruling on hold and ordered the city to include his name on any ballots being printed.

"The Board of Elections is directed that if any ballots are printed while this Court is considering this case, the ballots should include the name of petitioner Rahm Emanuel as a candidate for Mayor of the City of Chicago," the Supreme Court said in a one-page, unsigned order.

The court said it acted after receiving legal briefs from Emanuel and from his legal opponents who claimed he was unqualified because he did not meet residency requirements of state law. Today's order left unresolved whether the state's high court would take up the entire case on a speeded-up basis, but the order gave Emanuel the rapid relief he was seeking -- to keep his name on the ballot.
Stay tuned.

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