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Rahm Emanuel Got Screwed


An appelate court has ruled that President Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is ineligible to run for mayor of Chicago because he did not meet the residency requirements. Emanuel was leading in the polls (and fundraising), but all that could be for naught unless the Illinois Supreme Court reverses the rulling (PDF).

The crux of the arguement against Emanuel appears to be this:

An attorney for two voters objecting to Emanuel's candidacy argued again last week that the Democrat doesn't meet the one-year residency requirement because he rented out his Chicago home and moved his family to Washington to work for President Barack Obama for nearly two years.

"If the house had not been abandoned by the whole family ... we wouldn't be here today," attorney Burt Odelson told the panel of judges, all three Democrats.

In the discenting opionion (from the PDF) Justice Lampkin gets to the heart of the matter. Emanuel never abandoned his Chicago residency.

The majority acknowledges that the candidate had established a residency in Chicago long before 2009 where he had both a physical presence here and the intent to remain. The majority failed, however, to move past the issue of establishing residency to the relevant analysis, which turns on whether the candidate's residency, which he had indisputably held, was abandoned when he worked in Washington, D.C., and leased his Chicago home.

The Board's ruling-that the candidate in 2009 and 2010 did not abandon his status as a resident of Chicago and, thus, remained a resident of Chicago even though he was largely absent from this city from January 2009 until October 1, 2010-was not clearly erroneous. Intent is an issue of fact (Delk, 112 Ill. App. 3d at 738), and the majority acknowledges that the Board's fact findings were not against the manifest weight of the evidence. This acknowledgment should have ended this case, and resulted in this court affirming the circuit court's judgment, which confirmed the Board's ruling that the preponderance of the evidence established that the candidate never formed an intent to either change or terminate his residence in Chicago, or establish his residence in Washington, D.C., or any place other than Chicago.

Because the candidate had established his Chicago residency, it is presumed to continue until the contrary is shown, and the burden of proof is on the person who claims that there has been a change.

He details some of the specific facts - which are not at issue:

According to the record, the candidate testified that he intended to work in Washington, D.C., for no more than two years. Consistent with that intent, he leased his Chicago home on a shortterm basis. Although he and his wife were initially reluctant to lease their Chicago home, they heeded the advice of their friend and real estate consultant to lease the home during their absence for safety purposes. The candidate's intent to work in Washington, D.C., for the limited time frame and then return to his home in Chicago was confirmed by the testimony of three personal friends.

The candidate initially rented an apartment in Washington, D.C., but later rented a home when his family joined him during the summer of 2009. The lease terms of both his Chicago residence and the Washington, D.C., home coincided with the school year of the candidate's children in order to provide the least disruption possible to their education. Prior to the family's move to Washington, D.C., the candidate's wife and her friends filled 100 boxes with belongings that were then left in a locked storage area in the basement of the Chicago home. The candidate described the stored items as the family's most valuable possessions, including his wife's wedding gown, heirloom china, family photograph albums, an heirloom coat brought by the candidate's grandfather when he immigrated to the United States, the clothes and birth outfits of the candidate's children, and their school projects and report cards. Additionally, the candidate's family returned to Chicago two or three times for physician's appointments and celebratory gatherings. The candidate's wife maintained contact with the lessees of the Chicago home in order to facilitate repairs within the home and to schedule three or four occasions for the piano of the candidate's family to be tuned in their absence.

Furthermore, the candidate never voted in Washington, D.C., never changed his driver's license to Washington, D.C., never registered his car in Washington, D.C., never purchased property in Washington, D.C., never conducted personal banking in Washington, D.C., and never demonstrated an intent to sell his Chicago home. The challengers failed to counter the candidate's evidence, and the Board found that the weight of this evidence established that the candidate intended to maintain his residence in Chicago throughout the time of his temporary employment in Washington, D.C.

Emanuel's residence in DC very much resembles that of members of Congress, which shouldn't be a suprise as he was previously a Congressman from his district.

And finally the disenting judge shows that the majority is legislating on the fly, to the detriment of Emanual.

The majority attempts to support its creation of a completely new candidate residency standard with an exhaustive (or, rather, exhausting discussion of section 3.1-10-5(d) of the Municipal Code regarding the military exception. The candidate here was not in the military and did not attempt to claim an exemption under section 3.1-10-5(d). Nevertheless, while the majority spends five pages of its opinion on a subsection of the Municipal Code that has no applicability to the present case, the majority does not write a single sentence explaining how it defines "actually resided in."

It is patently clear that the majority fails to even attempt to define its newly discovered standard because it is a figment of the majority's imagination. How many days may a person stay away from his home before the majority would decide he no longer "actually resides" in it? Would the majority have us pick a number out of a hat? A standard which cannot be defined cannot be applied. If the majority had picked even an arbitrary number of days that voters need not sleep in their own beds before they violated this new arbitrary standard, then at least we would be able to apply this new standard. Should a court consider just the number of days a voter or candidate is absent or are there other relevant factors under the new standard?

Apparently, only the majority knows but, for some reason, fails to share it with those charged to abide by it if they want to be a candidate for municipal office.

The majority's promulgation of a new undefined standard cuts off the various boards of elections and circuit courts of this State from over 100 years of precedent. Clearly, the majority must posit the existence of a new standard in order to avoid the application of the manifest weight standard to the Board's fact findings and application of the clearly erroneous standard to the Board's ruling that the candidate did not intend to abandon his residence. The majority says, as it must, that it accepts the Board's findings of fact. Therefore the majority must fault the Board for failing to apply as the correct legal principle of candidate residency a standard that the majority just conjured out of thin air.

Emanuel may be loathsome to many on the right, but in this case he got a healthy dose of Chicago-style politics thrown at him by those in his own party - three Democratic judges. Regardless of one's personal feelings about Emanuel, a full read of the ruling makes it pretty clear that he got screwed.

Via Hot Air and RCP, here's press conference coverage:


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Comments (53)

Karma strikes back at Rahmb... (Below threshold)

Karma strikes back at Rahmbo. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. It's the Chicagoland way.

intent is not action ...</p... (Below threshold)

intent is not action ...

he rented his house ... it did not look like he "intended" to live in it ...

he did not spend one night under its roof ...

It doesn't matter what his "intent" was ... he moved out of Chicago ...

Kevin, hate to disagree wit... (Below threshold)

Kevin, hate to disagree with you publicly, but "residence" has a very specific meaning: where do you live?

He wasn't living at his home; someone else was. When he filed, I believe he had no legal address within the confines of the city of Chicago.

It's worth noting, too, that the same panel that first put him on the ballot also initially rejected another guy because they -- the panel -- had "lost" his paperwork. He had a receipt and everything, but they lost it, and that was his tough luck.

Sometimes in Chicago, justice prevails. It's usually an accident.


if he "intended" to return ... (Below threshold)

if he "intended" to return to living in Chicago then he should have done so 1 year before the election ...

but "residence" ha... (Below threshold)
Kevin Author Profile Page:
but "residence" has a very specific meaning: where do you live?

Talk to someone in the military about "residence." It's not so simple.

Once you establish residence, which is not in question here, you have to take some active step to "unreside."

Most people would agree that if you maintain voter eligibility in a place, continue to pay taxes there, maintain property there, and continue to be licesnsed to drive there you've not changed residence. Military memebers do it all the time.

Kevin, you're absolutely ri... (Below threshold)

Kevin, you're absolutely right about the military. But Rahm wasn't in the military. And it simply isn't a good comparison.

Maybe I'm being overly simplistic, but I tend to define "residency" as "where you reside." And if he can't say precisely where within the city he resides, as in "where he lays his head when he's in town, where he gets mail, where he can be legally served," then tough.


He talks about the people d... (Below threshold)
Pretzel Logic:

He talks about the people deciding and whats best for the people. I live here. Shouldnt the people have someone that actually lives IN Chicago. Knows the city, understands the issues? Thats the intention of that law I believe. Thus, a good decision. Not to mention our mayors have been lovable characters of late (daley, washington, byrne) This guy is anything but. He cant even speak properly. Someone representing the people of Chicago should be 'human' at least. This guy looses me right there.

Kevin,I was in the... (Below threshold)


I was in the military and you are right about keeping a "residence" when in the service ... thats why the law in Chicago gives an exemption for military service ...

residence in this cases has nothing to do with taxes, drivers license or voting ... it has to do with actually living in a location ... something they thought would be a good thing for candidates to mayoral office ...

also "intent" is meaningless ... if he "intended" to become a qualified resident then he should have moved back to Chicago earlier ...

Kevin,They have a ... (Below threshold)


They have a special exemption for military service (see the discussion on 3.1-10-5(d) of the Municipal Code regarding the military exception).

The point is the law said Eligible to vote AND a resident for 1 year. Under normal circumstances, residency for 1 day before the registration cutoff allows voting (or being dead less than 400 years in Chicago). The appellate court said simply using the eligible to vote makes no sense when the statute says eligible to vote AND a resident for the previous year, so the law must mean what it says.

The law as written and interpreted aren't unconstitutional, so if the legislature of Illinois wrote a crappy law (doesn't mean what they wanted it to mean), they can fix it.

additionally, the military ... (Below threshold)
Pretzel Logic:

additionally, the military provision was a WWII era item. When there was a draft. As in no choice. Emanuel had a choice. He choose to move.

Both sides conceed that he ... (Below threshold)
Kevin Author Profile Page:

Both sides conceed that he was a resident and had residancy prior to his move to Washington. What those sueing aledge is that the act of renting the house is the act that forfeited residency. You can be a resident and temporary live elsewhere, so "resident" doesn't necessarily imply you have to be sleeping in the city.

Ah that little "intent" thi... (Below threshold)
Don L:

Ah that little "intent" thing again.
Obama says you can kill a fully born baby after if you "intended" to do it before.

So the question I would ask is, therefore, shouldn't we follow the "intent" of our constitutional framers if intent determines the reality?

By the way, if I intended to have a dozen kids can, I still claim them as dependents?

The case was not decided on... (Below threshold)

The case was not decided on a "residency" requirement. The court found he was an "elector" and thus a "resident."

The case was decided on the "reside in" requirement, which is different and separate from the "residency" (ie, elector) requirement. Emanuel, while a "resident," did not "reside in" the city for the period he needed to.

I read the decision of the ... (Below threshold)

I read the decision of the majority a bit differently. The two judges appear to intrepret the 1938 decision to mean that there is a different standard for meeting residency requirements for those running for office than it is for voters.

That is, that in order to adequately represent those in the jurisdiction, one must have been residing there for the previous year.

This was the right decision... (Below threshold)
jim m:

This was the right decision.

If you took Rahm's argument then anyone who at any time lived in Chicago could be considered a resident because they left with the intent of coming back.

He was not residing in Chicago, he only owned a residence there which he was renting out without intent to occupy. By that standard anyone who owned rental property could run for mayor having never set foot in the city.

Absence and residency are v... (Below threshold)

Absence and residency are very tricky things. Did he pay Illinois state taxes during his time in WashDC? Did the locked storage of prized possessions indicate intent? School schedules?

No matter how I feel about him, the law MUST be consistently and honestly applied to everybody.

Just wondering.... Most ci... (Below threshold)

Just wondering.... Most cities have "reside in" regulation for their fire departments. What would "Mayor Rahm" do in this case: A firefighter rents out his Chicago house and moves in with his mother-in-law to take care of her during her last 2 years of life. She lives in Milwaukee and he commutes to his station in Chicago. He continues to "own" his Chicago house, vote there, and will move back when his mother-in-law passes away. Do you think he would let that fly???

(For you out-of-the-area people, it is not unheard of for some on the south end of Wisconsin to commute to Chicago)

the law MUST be consiste... (Below threshold)
jim m:

the law MUST be consistently and honestly applied to everybody.

This is Chicago we are talking about. Don't hold your breath.

The author of this entry kn... (Below threshold)
Caesar Augustus:

The author of this entry knows as much about the law as a mannequin knows about dress codes.

Separate but related topic, if only Chicago-area judges would be this stringent in requiring someone to have a pulse before voting, then we'd be able to make some real progress towards free and fair and legal elections in the Windy City.

It's about time the rear en... (Below threshold)
Bill Fabrizio:

It's about time the rear end of his anatomy was involved in a screwing. The country is tired of suffering abuse from the front end.

Also, hope the screwers didn't use any vasoline.

the law MUST be consistentl... (Below threshold)

the law MUST be consistently and honestly applied to everybody...not to mention in the 2 years....

He never changed his driver's license to Washington, D.C., never registered his car in Washington, D.C.,

"the law MUST be consistent... (Below threshold)

"the law MUST be consistently and honestly applied to everybody."

Unlike Massachusetts, who changed the senatorial succession law twice - to benefit Democratic incumbents.

As for Chicago's residency law - looks like it needs some fine tuning. As for the comments about the military and residency - the laws are rather explicit on that.

"Intending to come back" is not residency. That's like me applying for a loan to buy a McMansion on the coast, BECAUSE I INTEND to be a millionaire. Someday.

Carolyn -OYOH, he ... (Below threshold)

Carolyn -

OYOH, he filed taxes one place and then recently and quite hastily went back and amended them to Il.

"OTOH" - sigh.... (Below threshold)

"OTOH" - sigh.

Silly question, but where d... (Below threshold)

Silly question, but where did he claim residency when paying last years income taxes?

The IRS and most states have pretty strict regulations about residency.

I'd love to buy a condo in Las Vegas, move my bank accounts to that address register my car, register to vote, etc to the vegas address. But even with all that, the fact that my head hits a pillow in California more than half the year would push me into being a California resident, not a Nevada resident, no matter what I claimed.

Of course, since Rahm is a democrat, the rules don't apply to him (for example, see Rose Kennedy being declared a redident of Florida in order to avoid Mass estate taxes, despite the fact that she hadn't set foot in Florida for more than a decade before her death). Maybe its time to switch the voter registration to Democrat...

Maybe he could have Barry ... (Below threshold)

Maybe he could have Barry vouch for him? Or, at least, pardon him just before 2012.

Having so much trouble buil... (Below threshold)

Having so much trouble building up sympathy for Rahm. This is how it is done by IL Democrats. Look at his boss. Jiggering his opponents off the ballots is how he won his state and US senate seats.

Listening to either Barry o... (Below threshold)

Listening to either Barry or Rahm screaming "IT AIN'T FAIR!" has got to be the biggest joke of the day.

The exceptions for military... (Below threshold)

The exceptions for military service are clearly for voter eligibility not candidate.

Kenny, Rahm filed taxes cla... (Below threshold)

Kenny, Rahm filed taxes claiming he was a D.C. resident.

And then a month ago, amended his tax return to claim Chicago.

Which is a pretty clear indication of bad faith in my opinion.

Maybe I'm being overly s... (Below threshold)

Maybe I'm being overly simplistic, but I tend to define "residency" as "where you reside."

That is overly simplistic (and circular, as it requires you to then define "reside"). But according to the dictionary, there's a reasonable argument that he's still a resident:


the act or fact of dwelling in a place for some time

He dwelled in his house "for some time"; that's not in dispute.

the place where one actually lives as distinguished from one's domicile or a place of temporary sojourn

He seemed to demonstrate by his actions that he viewed his relocation to DC to be a "temporary sojourn", and that one day he'd return to his house in Chicago.

I couldn't care less whether he's eligible or not. And I get a chuckle from those who claimed "Chicago politics!" when he was deemed eligible to run are now crying "Chicago politics!" when he's not. But this case is interesting to watch from a legal argument point of view, for those who find such analyses intellectually stimulating rather than a trigger for political venom.

Rules do not apply to the d... (Below threshold)

Rules do not apply to the democrats so they do not worry about them because a liberal judge
will rule in favor for them at some point.

It's just like taxes, they apply to the other guys who are stupid enough to go by the rules.

I'm surprised Soros did not pay his mortgage for him while helping to bring our country down for him.

Its the Highway for the Chi... (Below threshold)

Its the Highway for the Chicago way.

Your wrong.The req... (Below threshold)

Your wrong.

The requirement to vote Rham meets. The more stringent requirement of actually living in the city for 1 year in order to run for office is not met.

"The more stringent require... (Below threshold)

"The more stringent requirement of actually living in the city for 1 year in order to run for office is not met."

Well that lives Rahm out.

But Rahm wasn't in th... (Below threshold)
John S:

But Rahm wasn't in the military.

Not the U.S. military.

He never changed his driver's license to Washington, D.C., never registered his car in Washington, D.C.

Then he faces large fines in Washington, D.C. Ordinary people are expected to do so immediately after renting a place. (And the city government is so fucked up, you can lose days out of work trying to get it done.)

I thought Rham was supposed... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

I thought Rham was supposed to be an expert on the rules of governance in both DC.. and Chicago. He doesn't seem to have thought this through. Another teaching lesson brought to us by the Obama administration.

Kevin, you're absolutely... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Kevin, you're absolutely right about the military. But Rahm wasn't in the military. And it simply isn't a good comparison.

I agree. There's a qualitative distinction between a service member or a Congressman on one hand, and Emanuel's situation on the other.

The former are required to move elsewhere by their jobs; neither have any volition in the matter. (You could argue that they have the option not to join the military, or to run for Congress, but there's a strong public policy argument not to apply that argument.)

Emanuel's situation is not comparable. He took a job in another part of the country. Not for a week, or a month, or even a year, but at the time he left, for an indefinite period. How is that different from his moving to, say, Seattle to work for Boeing?

Put another way, what would he have to do to give up residency in Chicago?

Still another point: could he run for mayor of DC (assuming DC has the same residency requirement)? Why, or why not? Can we agree that he can't be a resident of two cities at the same time?

By hook or crook I wager he... (Below threshold)

By hook or crook I wager he'll be on the ballot.

Rahm will be on the ballot ... (Below threshold)

Rahm will be on the ballot and win!

This is Chicago, and the vote tally has already been printed.

Sorry Ram, You ma... (Below threshold)

Sorry Ram,

You make Barry look like the fool He is and He cancels your contract. Its the Chicago way.

Jay Guevara's point @ #38 i... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Jay Guevara's point @ #38 is salient: under the logic promoted here, it would be hard for Rahm to NOT be a resident.

The law provides a two-fold test of residency for holding public office: voter eligibility, which category of "residency" Rahm retained, AND actually living in the city for a year before the election.

He didn't live there.

Not to say in the wonderful world of Illinois politics, where the Governor's mansion is often the last stop before a prison cell, that the ruling won't be reversed - remember how the Courts tortured the statutes when "The Torch" was going down in flames, in order to replace him - but it reads the law correctly.

One aspect seems to be miss... (Below threshold)
C J:

One aspect seems to be missing here; when Rham was a member of congress, and by law had to have a residence in his district, could he have gotten away with renting it out like he did here?

I don't know the answer to the above question, but my guess is he didn't rent his house out when in congress, so why the difference now? Why should the standard be any less?

My take on the outcome: he'd be an awful mayor, but the alternative is likely much worse.

I don't know about DC, but ... (Below threshold)

I don't know about DC, but most states require you to change your drivers license and vehicle registration within 30 days of relocation. He simply lit the candle at both ends and burnt his ass. Pay taxes in DC, amend to Illinois when he decided to run for mayor, left his residence in Chicago rented it out (wonder if he "planned" to pay $100,00.00 to break the lease?) just had to have that extra income. This guy would be a traffic cops dream (or nightmare).

Rahm Emanuel Go... (Below threshold)
Ak4mc Author Profile Page:
Rahm Emanuel Got Screwed
You say that like it's a bad thing.
Looks like a good crisis fo... (Below threshold)

Looks like a good crisis for you Mr. Emanuel. Don't let it go to waste.

Emmanuel left Chicago for a... (Below threshold)

Emmanuel left Chicago for a job in Washington DC,. Whether he 'intended' to work there for two, three, four or even more years is not material. He took a job in another city. When I leave to take a job in another city, I choose to give up my residency. Emmanuel knew this law existed, but because he was Obama's guy and a member in good standing with the Chicago Machine, he thought he could just ignore the law and bully his way onto the mayoral ballot.

I would ask the assembled o... (Below threshold)
NJ Mike:

I would ask the assembled one question, without malice or intending to sound lefty in any way shape or form. To me there is a question of 'service' to the President being temporary by nature. Congresspeople can, and have remainded the incumbent with temporary DC residency for decades, but as an aide to the POTUS, it is generally a very short term gig. I kinda agree with the dissent, but shed no tears for Rahmbo. From all reports he is a classless POS.

NJ Mike, you raise a fair p... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

NJ Mike, you raise a fair point, and one I considered in writing my comment above.

The problem is the murkiness of the standard you're implicitly suggesting. What is "service to the President," and who qualifies as "serving the President (beside Monica)? Chief of staff? How about an unofficial advisor to the President? How about someone who drops in from time to time, a la Andy Stern? How about the White House chef? You see the problem.

Contrast a Congressman. You're either in Congress, or you're not. Period. Bright line rule. If you are, you have to be in DC to do your job, i.e. to represent your constituents, wherever they are. For most Congressmen (e.g., those not from VA or MD), that means they have to live in DC. Fair enough. They can and should retain residency of wherever they're from.

But for anything else, you're on a slippery slope. For my money, Congressmen, diplomats, and serving members of the military should retain their residency. For everyone else, your residency is ...uh...where you reside.

Having no dog in the fight,... (Below threshold)
Kevin Author Profile Page:

Having no dog in the fight, as most of us don't, I too wondered why the majority opinion wouldn't apply to members of Congress as well. By that standard it would seem to be hard for them to run for reelection.

Anyway it's been a very interesting, and civil, discussion.

Jay G, I see what you are s... (Below threshold)
NJ Mike:

Jay G, I see what you are saying and did not want to open it up that far......but I was referring to specifically the confidential aides, assistants etc... that are only serving at the President's whim and as we've seen before they come and go.....
And I am surprised at MYSELF for getting into a DEFENSE of Rahmbo!!!!
Enjoy your day, have fun in the snow.
NJ Mike

What could possibly be more... (Below threshold)

What could possibly be more just--and funnier--than a Chicago thug political hack getting screwed by another Chicago thug political hack! Now we'll see who has more political clout on the Illinois Supreme Court. After all, given the Democrat way of doing things, clout is all it ever really comes down to.

I expected this when it was... (Below threshold)

I expected this when it was expedited, and Obama said he wanted Rahm on the ballot. sounds kind of dictatorial to me.
I guess Rahm wanted to go somewhere to make more money….Blago-style.






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