Class action lawsuit challenges Cheney's Wyoming residency
By NATALIE GOTT Associated Press Writer
AUSTIN (AP) - A second lawsuit seeking to block Gov. George W. Bush from becoming president by challenging running mate Dick Cheney's status as a Wyoming resident was filed in Texas on Tuesday. Filed as a class-action lawsuit in Austin, it lists 1,915 plaintiffs and claims that Cheney and Bush cannot earn Texas' 32 electoral votes because Cheney - like Bush - is a Texas inhabitant.
"We believe Bush is from Texas and Cheney is from Texas," said Philadelphia attorney Philip Berg, the lead counsel in the case. "Cheney does not meet the residency requirements of the state of Wyoming." The lawsuit cites the 12th Amendment of the Constitution, which says if the president and vice president are inhabitants of the same state, they can't earn that state's electoral votes.
The lawsuit alleges that Cheney, a former Wyoming congressman, is a Texas resident because he has lived in Texas for the past eight years, has not moved to another primary residence since then and has voted in the Texas elections for the past eight years, excluding the Nov. 7 presidential election. Cheney spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss said the lawsuit was frivolous. "We think that the cases that have been filed in Texas will meet the same swift and sure end as the cases that have been filed in Florida," Weiss said. A similar lawsuit filed in Florida was dismissed last week.
Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said the Bush team reviewed Cheney's status as a Wyoming resident before Cheney was selected as Bush's running mate. Cheney lived in Dallas while he was chairman of Halliburton Co. until he changed his voting registration to Teton County, Wyo. on July 21 - four days before becoming Bush's running mate. Last week, Cheney put his Dallas house up for sale for $3.1 million. "Cheney flew to Wyoming to register to vote because they were aware they had a constitutional problem. Voter registration does not solve the problem," said Berg, a registered Democrat who finished last in a six-way race this year for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
Cheney, who was defense secretary under President George Bush, also owns a home in Jackson, Wyo., and McLean, Va. Weiss said the Cheneys have owned the Wyoming house for 25 years and currently live there. At a news conference in Austin, attorney Jim Harrington, who filed the lawsuit, said that if the lawsuit stood, he hoped it would set a precedent that electors from other states could not vote for the Bush/Cheney ticket.
Berg said many of the plaintiffs joined the lawsuit through an Internet petition circulated at Websites, including www.trustthepeople.com.
A similar lawsuit, filed by three Texans in Dallas on Nov. 20, is pending before a federal judge. In that case, attorneys for the three residents filed a set of 19 questions for Cheney to answer in order to determine where the vice presidential candidate lives. Among issues the filing asks Cheney to answer are:
- Whether he, or anyone on his behalf, had listed his Dallas home as his primary residence on county property tax records as of Nov. 27.
- Whether his wife had canceled her Texas driver's license or voter registration card as of Nov. 27.
- His address listed on tax documents such as his personal income tax return from 1999 and his quarterly estimated tax payment due Sept. 15, 2000.
- How many nights he had spent in his Wyoming home since July, the month he changed his voter registration.
- All the reasons he resigned from Halliburton.
The filing also asks Cheney to list "each and every conversation (he has) had with any person regarding the possibility of a constitutional impediment" to being vice president. "Those questions are not pertinent as to whether the secretary is a legal resident of Wyoming," Weiss said. One of several attorneys for the Dallas plaintiff's, William Berenson, did not return a phone call for comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
On the Net: www.trustthepeople.com