Connelly Lives in Madrona, Votes on Whidbey
Stefan Sharkansky reports that P-I columnist Joel Connelly—the same Joel Connelly who has repeatedly worked himself into an ethical lather about Stranger reporters’ friendships with certain City Hall employees—has four people registered to vote at his 737-square-foot vacation home on Whidbey Island, including Connelly, his landscaper, and two friends who actually live overseas. According to Sharkansky:
The registrations that appear to be outright fraudulent (and I don’t use that word lightly here) are those of Ellen and David Lawsky. David Lawsky is a correspondent for Reuters, who relocated from the Washington, DC bureau to the Brussels bureau in 2001. Ellen Lawsky is Head of the International High School in Brussels. In a May 2004 column, Connelly described Lawsky as “a hiking buddy visiting from Washington, D.C.” Funny then, that this out of town visitor and his wife had registered to vote at Connelly’s Island County cabin in October 2002 and have voted in 8 elections since, including those for local school, park and library measures. But how can they legitimately claim to be legal residents of Island County, Washington State, and not Washington, DC? As far as I can tell, they can’t.
Sharkansky also posts pdfs of his correspondence with Connelly, in which the P-I columnist attempts to justify allowing his overseas friends to claim residency at his tiny cabin: “They are… former Seattleites who registered with the expressed intent of moving back to Washington when present assignments come to an end. David has more than a bit of sweat equity in the place. He helped haul railroad ties used to buttress the trail system.”
A good friend, indeed. But in terms of specific legal facts that establish residency? Neither of the Lawskys possess Washington state drivers licenses, and the kicker—they continue to own their longtime home in Washington DC where they claim the homestead property tax credit which is available only for property owners who use the property as their principle place of residence.
Connelly also defends his own Whidbey Island registraton, calling the “place… far more than a ‘vacation cabin’: It’s been featured on the Travel Channel.” But despite his righteous indignation (he also accuses Sharkansky of “ratfucking” him) Connelly appears to actually live in Madrona, to which he has referred in columns as his “home” and “neighborhood.” Lucky for him, Connelly can choose where to vote. The rest of us have to vote where we actually live.