PSC Commissioner Everett’s residency in question

John Monds, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for Public Service Commission District 1, has filed a residency complaint against Doug Everett, the Republican incumbent.

The complaint alleges that Everett lives in Clarkesville and Atlanta, but not at any of the addresses provided in official filings to the State Ethics Commission.

The Atlanta residence is rented, though paid for with campaign funds since 2006. The home in Albany that Everett has used in filings is actually owned by his son, Michael C. Everett. A homestead exemption has been filed to this effect as well.

Monds writes, “It is very reasonable to ask Mr. Everett to come forward and provide evidence of his residency. I ask that you use all means within your power to expeditiously resolve any questions that exist concerning this matter.”

It may be too late to file a challenge. I’m not sure. Otherwise, it’ll be interesting to see how the Secretary of State’s office handles this. Especially since there is no Democrat running in this race and the questions over partisanship in the Jim Powell residency case.

Disclosure: Jason Pye is on staff with Bob Barr 2008 and is a member of the Libertarian Party of Georgia Executive Committee.

25 comments

  1. Chris says:

    If I recall from the Keith Gross challenge, it has to be filed within a few days of qualifying.

    Too little, too late, just like the LP

  2. JRM2016 says:

    Having appeared before an ALJ last week to fight a baseless residency challenge, I can tell you ocga 21-2-5 requires a challenge be filed within two weeks of qualifying.

  3. Icarus says:

    Was the court filing against Baker by Dozier filed on the same code, or did it seek to remove him from office (as opposed to removing him from the ballot) because he didn’t live in the district?

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  5. atlantaman says:

    While the Powell residency issue has been perverted into Handel’s partisan witch hunt by the AJC, the reality is the complaint was filed by Powell’s Democrat primary opponent a long time ago.

  6. drjay says:

    so is this going to become sort sort of hobby in regards to the psc now–these guys have a pretty full time job in atl from what i have read and learned about the position–they are also divided into districts (even though they ar elected statewide–which seems to violate on man one vote to me–but that’s another issue entirely) everett is a long established resident and public servant from albany, having served in various aspects of local gov’t and representing albany in the state house before becoming a psc–if you do not like his votes or his leanings campaign against them–but this is a lame minor league stunt–even for the libertarians…

  7. atlantaman says:

    I’m not saying the AJC didn’t briefly mention it was filed by a Democrat, but the overall theme of the coverage, per Jason’s original thread, was this is some sort of partisan crusade from Karen.

    I’ll also go out on a line and guess their editorials conveniently do not mention it was filed by a Democrat.

    I know Downey’s most recent editorial did not mention Democrat Indech or his complaint. Great journalism – instead of rebutting the other side’s arguments, just pretend they don’t exist.

    http://www.ajc.com/search/content/opinion/stories/2008/09/23/voted.html

  8. atlantaman says:

    Sounds like you need to know the difference. I mentioned the AJC had perverted the issue, you’re the one who wants to pull the editorial page outside of their realm. Just so you are aware, most of the AJC’s perversion occurs on their editorial page.

  9. SavannahDem says:

    O.C.G.A. Section 21-2-5(b):

    “The Secretary of State upon his or her own motion may challenge the qualifications of any candidate at any time prior to the election of such candidate. Within two weeks after the deadline for qualifying, any elector who is eligible to vote for a candidate may challenge the qualifications of the candidate by filing a written complaint with the Secretary of State giving the reasons why the elector believes the candidate is not qualified to seek and hold the public office for which he or she is offering.”

    The 2 week deadline only applies to challenges brought by candidates. Thus, Karen can bring this up on her own if she wants to. I won’t hold my breath.

    (h/t to Icarus who called me out about the two week deadline in an earlier K. Gross thread.)

  10. drjay says:

    “Thus, Karen can bring this up on her own if she wants to. I won’t hold my breath.”

    well if this is like the athens case last year–the nature of the psc seems to allow a lower threshold for residency–since they do work fulltime in atl–ironically everett was a itness in that case–but the bar for everett is probably going to be where he’s registered to vote and no much else–esp. as a long established member of he albany community…

  11. My kin folks call me Nick says:

    This is pretty stupid!

    If you run for office or are a public official somebody is going to check out where you reside.

  12. SavannahDem says:

    DrJ. –

    I agree that residency is a question of intent under GA law – and that there is no bright line test. However, SOS Handel does not agree with that. In the past she has argued that, if a person claims a homestead exemption, the address of the exemption is their residence regardless of any other factor.

    See her column in the AJC: http://www.ajc.com/search/content/opinion/stories/2008/07/25/equaled.html

    Now, this case is different. The son owns the residence and he claims the exemption. A parent can be a resident in his son’s house. But, it usually works the other way, and I think it is worth looking at. I doubt that Handel will agree with me.

  13. drjay says:

    i readily concede that your homestead does go to great lengths to est. your residency–although that was successfully challenged in augusta a couple years ago when the former fire chief was allowed to run for mayor using a condo in augusta as his residence even though he had an exemption on a house in columbia county—bu i go back to this office specifically b/c it is not part time work like the legislature–but unlike other statewide offices has a
    “district” from which members must run–does this monds guy plan to commute–or will he have an “atlanta address” as well if he gets elected–we went through all of this w/ the athens case last year–lots of parents live in their children’s homes these days…this guy was the deputy mayor of albany and a state rep form the area in the 90’s–the only reason he “lives in atl” now is to perform the duties of the job to which he was elected–i would imagine his gop primary opponent would have raised the issue over the summer–if their was an issue to be raised…

  14. Jason Pye says:

    By the way, I’m not accusing Handel of partisan bias in the Powell case. I just wonder how she’ll handle it in the midst of those accusations.

  15. GreenAllTheWay says:

    Pretty dumb to me, how can anyone living full time souh of Tifton be expected to also work 5 days a week in Atlanta unless they rent somewhere. Seems like a witch hunt by someone. Hasn’t this been decided 2 or 3 times? What a waste of tax payer funds with meaningless court cases in the middle of an economic melt down.

  16. Strange how rules made by those associated with the ones that have the power to create them all of a sudden become stupid when one of their own is possibly caught not following them.

    Out of all of the comments, Icarus seems to be the only one that got the intent of the challenge:
    …challenge the qualifications of H. Doug Everett,…to remain in or be re-elected to said office. no mention of ballot.

    5. In order to be elected as a member of the Commission from a Public Service Commission
    District, a person must have resided in that district for at least 12 months prior to
    election thereto and must continue to reside in that district during that person’s term of
    office.

    O.C.G.A. § 46-2-1(b)

    It appears Everett sold his house in Sylvester in 2006. About the same time his campaign started paying rent in Atlanta. He owns a home in Clarkesville, approx. 80 miles from Atlanta, but claims he lives with his son in Albany, 185 miles from Atlanta.

    If the people who actually live in the district are OK with being represented by someone who may not live in their district and the Secretary of State is OK with it, then I guess the matter is mute. But at least now they have been made aware of it and can’t claim they didn’t know… and can do something about it if they are not OK with it.

  17. drjay says:

    again one of the ironies of the psc seat–it may not matter at all what the people who live in the district think about commissioner everett’s apt in atl or cabin in the mountains–look at the campaign events of your own candidate–lots of atl –not a lot of tifton –a person could in theory win a psc seat w/ out a single vote from their district–b/c the whole state does the voting–the long record of public service everett has in south ga are plenty of proof where his heart is–just last year a psc member had to go through this–and the fact that they work full time in atl was taken in to account when the challenger began asking how many nights were spent where…i would assume the same will be the case here unless everett is so politically dense as to not be registered to vote in albany or something like that…

  18. ChuckEaton says:

    Public Service Commissioners are elected and represent the citizens statewide. Commissioner Everett does not “represent” the people of his South Georgia district anymore than I serve and represent those folks. The districts are simply a residency requirement and have nothing to do with representation. The energy issues we deal with are not district oriented.

    I think the SOS has been consistent on the law, if you have a homestead exemption then that is your residency. You can’t require a homestead, because that would stop renters from running for office.

    Commissioner Everett has never held a homestead exemption anywhere other than his PSC district. He is registered to vote, serves on jury duty, and his car is registered in Albany. He has served the citizens in a variety of elected offices in Albany.

    I’m fortunate because the Capital is in my PSC district so I have the shortest commute of all the PSC Commissioners. It’s unrealistic to expect somebody who lives in Albany or Athens to commute home on a daily basis.

    The Powell case is different since he and his wife were living in Cobb County and he is now trying to establish residency in north Georgia (where there is an open PSC seat). I believe he waited too late to get a homestead exemption in North GA for the candidate qualifying year, so his homestead exemption remains at his home in Cobb County. As mentioned before, Powell’s Democrat Primary opponent is the one who brought the complaint to the SOS’s office.

    Daniel Adams is correct in that a Commissioner is required to live in his district during his term of office, so to some extent the upcoming election is irrelevant to this issue. Regardless, I feel Commissioner Everett is covered on a legal basis and a practical basis – since he’s lived in that district for his entire life.

  19. Commissioner Everett does not “represent” the people of his South Georgia district

    I’m glad to see we agree on this. Due to his voting record and the fact that he claims that the majority of his campaign contributions come from those associated with the companies that he regulates, he seems to represent himself.

    A good Commisioner should represent his districts interest while also doing what’s good for the state. Just like a US Congressman should do what’s good for his district while also doing what’s good for the country.

    I remember in 2006 you ran on the same issues as John Monds:
    Eaton, 37, a Realtor from Atlanta, has sought to portray himself as an advocate for consumers. …At the same time, Eaton has hammered away at Burgess’ voting record as leaning heavily toward utilities and has criticized the incumbent for taking campaign contributions from utility executives.

    I believe it was this stance that got you a lot of Libertarian, fiscal conservative and consumer support. If you are in fact Chuck Eaton and not just someone using your name to post here, it is difficult to see you defend Everett so strongly.

  20. ChuckEaton says:

    “A good Commisioner should represent his districts interest while also doing what’s good for the state. Just like a US Congressman should do what’s good for his district while also doing what’s good for the country.”

    Daniel-

    Your muddling words and concepts together to suit your needs wihout regard to the actual structure of the PSC. Commissioners do not represent a district, we represent the entire state. From a representation standpoint our residency requirement districts are irrelevant.

    PSC Commissioners are elected by the enitre state, US Congressman are elected only by their districts – it’s an apples to oranges comparison.

    Generally if you would like to know who a particular elected official represents look at who votes for the office – and yes I know ulitimately we are all supposed to represent God, country, and apple pie.

    My post had nothing to do with defending Doug Everett, but was my interpretation of the law and precedents regarding residency requirements. The law is the law, which civil people can always have a debate as to its interpretation, but it should never be confused with political support of one candidate or another.

    For the record, Doug Everett is a good man who serves the people of this state well – and who I fully support for reelection. There are times I vote with him and there are times I vote against him, but I’ve always respected his views on the issues.

  21. I’ll give you that my conceptual description was not a perfect apples to apples or oranges to oranges comparison. But having the residency requirement has an intent. It was so the whole state wasn’t being represented by those that just lived in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Right? Therefore, as I understood it, the commissioner had to live in and continue to live in the districts “they represent.”

    I also agree with you ” The law is the law,” and that is why this complaint also has to do equal treatment and application of the law. I guarantee you that if John Monds sold his house in Cairo, bought a home in Clarkesville, got a condo in Atlanta to live in during the work week and claimed that he still live in Cairo in his brother’s basement… The Secretary of State would probably declare him not qualified and remove him from the ballot so fast it would make your head spin.

    There are times I vote with him and there are times I vote against him
    I don’t know you but due to your voting and rhetoric I’ve thought you to be a good man or at least a pretty independent and honest one. So, one more and I’ll leave you be.
    After railing on Burgess for accepting donations from the utility company executives, do you currently accept them? I would hope not, and I would think you would equally have a problem with the donations Everett accepts, and also have a problem with him using them to have paid his rent in Atlanta. So what is your honest opinion on this?

  22. jsm says:

    Just heard Everett and Monds on the radio with Martha Zoller. Monds made good arguments.

    The only really defining difference I noted was views on deregulation of utilities. Everett said it was not possible with electrical service. Monds said that it may be possible through sharing lines or some other compromises among companies and that the gas deregulation was only on the demand side–not the supply side. Interesting exchange.

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