Two months after moving to Grimes, lawmaker releases bill showing water usage

Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 6:14 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R-Grimes) released a bill showing he used water in a condo, which he claims to reside in since August 8th.

Records, which investigative teams at KCRG-TV9 and KCCI-TV in Des Moines, show Sen. Whitver didn’t receive any charges for water usage during the first two billing cycles after his move. Sen. Whitver released the bill after KCRG-TV9 published a story on Tuesday showing a state law requiring candidates to live in the district is virtually impossible for officials to enforce.

Iowa law requires state lawmakers to reside in the district they’ve been elected to represent for at least 60 days before the general election. Iowa Democrats have used the story as evidence Sen. Whitver doesn’t live in the Grimes condo, which Polk County records show he owns. Polk County records also show Sen. Whitver’s address in Ankeny is eligible for the homestead tax credit, which is for people who own and occupy property.

Sen. Whitver’s old home in Ankeny is located in Senate District 21, where another incumbent Republican lawmaker is running for the senate seat. The Grimes apartment allows Sen. Whitver to run in Senate District 23. The district contains Alleman, Bondurant, Bouton, and other townships surrounding the Des Moines Metro.

Before we published the story on Tuesday, KCCI reached out to Sen. Whitver last week, who ignored our request for an interview. A spokesperson for the Senate Majority Leader said Sen. Whitver is a resident of Grimes in a written statement. He also shared the most recent bill showing a water charge of $9.45.

KCCI did knock on the door at both properties in Grimes and Ankeny and didn’t receive an answer. But, the Des Moines television station said it found packages addressed to Sen. Whitver at the Ankeny address.

A voter filed a challenge to Senator Whitver’s voter registration address earlier this year. A panel dismissed the challenge, which meant he could run. But, somebody could still challenge the registration.

Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill (D) said people can register to vote at an address, which becomes somebody’s residency, with no other supporting documentation. He said state law requires county auditors to assume the information is correct and his office doesn’t have the resources to check every voter registration.

“It would be an impossibility to check every one of those voter registrations as they come in and I think the law relies on your swearing on the affidavit the information is correct,” Gill said.

He said the only exceptions are if another voter files a complaint or if the post office returns voter registration mail as undeliverable. According to voter registration forms, people giving false information on a voter registration form could get convicted of perjury and fined up to $10,245 and/or a jail sentence for up to five years.

Kevin Hall, who is a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office, said the same assumption made on voter registration applications is made on nomination petitions as well. He also said the law doesn’t allow counties to look at a candidate’s voter registration profile.

“All election officials, including county auditors, are required to apply the law in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner,” Hall said. “They cannot more closely scrutinize one voter registration form, because the voter happens to be a candidate for public office, and they cannot add extra steps that do not exist in the law.”

Politicians are known to move after redistricting to avoid facing off against other incumbents. Sarah Trone Garriott (D-West Des Moines) moved out of her former Windsor Heights address after she was drawn in the same district as Sen. Clair Celsi (D-Des Moines). The deed changed hands, according to Polk County records on January 2022. TV9 also found Dennis Cohoon (D-Burlington) moved from an address to a different address, which he owns to run for the state legislature in 2022.