Opinion: So does Democrat Pete Stark represent California or Maryland?


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Oh-oh, looks like more tax troubles for another Democrat in Washington.

California’s Rep. Pete Stark, a senior House Democrat who helps write the nation’s tax laws, has been claiming a $1.7 million Maryland home as his principal residence in recent years, although he represents the Golden State’s 13th District on the east side of San Francisco Bay.

The 77-year-old Stark has saved himself nearly $3,900 in state and county taxes by claiming the six-acre waterfront estate as his principal residence, according to an investigation by Bloomberg News.


Maryland law allows the tax break only to those residences used ‘for the legal purposes of voting, obtaining a driver’s license, and filing income tax returns.’

Notified of the discovery, a state official said an investigation would be launched.

Stark tells Bloomberg, ‘Insofar as I know, I’m obeying the law.’

Now in his 19th congressional term, the liberal Democrat and one of several Californians in House leadership under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, confirmed that he and his wife Deborah are indeed not registered to vote in Maryland.

He said they use her parents’ address in San Lorenzo to maintain their California voting eligibility.

Stark would save another $3,770 under the same claim this year. He is the second-ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. Members of Congress recently allowed their $4,700 pay raises for 2009 to take effect, a total spending increase of $2.5 million a year. They now each earn $174,000 annually.

Although much recent congressional attention has focused on corporate bonuses in New York, taxes seem to be the problem de la saison for Washington Democrats this winter.

Timothy Geithner had to pay thousands in back taxes before his confirmation as President Obama’s secretary of the Treasury. Ex-Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew his name as secretary of Health and Human Services after revelations that he had paid $140,000 in back taxes and penalties on unreported benefits.


Nancy Kelleher, who was to be chief performance review officer for the new administration, also withdrew her name over a back-tax issue.

Another California Democrat, Rep. Hilda Solis, was confirmed as Obama’s secretary of Labor when her husband paid up some 16 years of back local tax liens.

Earlier this month another Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, had his similar Maryland state tax disallowed by officials for the same reasons, his home there not really being his principal residence.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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