Stacy has already given a rundown of interim Chief of Staff Pete Rouse’s roles in the Obama administration and nefarious dealings with some players in Alaska politics. Another questionable aspect of Rouse is his voting history. In the past several days, Governor Palin tweeted a series of tweets regarding Alaska "resident", Pete Rouse:
Governor Palin suggests we check out Pete Rouse’s background and voter registration in Alaska. Thanks for the suggestion, Governor, let’s do that.
A story in the ADN published in February of 2009 reported the following regarding Rouse’s registration status (emphasis mine):
The ambitious young staffer returned to Washington, D.C., in 1983 and worked for Democrats in the Senate ever since. For a while, he imagined returning to Alaska if Miller ever managed to win a race for governor. The dream faded; Miller died of bone cancer in 1989, at age 46. Rouse’s last visit to Juneau was to attend his old friend’s memorial.
Rouse continued to keep many personal ties in Alaska — along with his voter registration. In last November’s presidential race, records show, the man who would co-lead Obama’s transition team voted absentee in Juneau.
Rouse declined to discuss his voter registration.
Why might Rouse decline to discuss his voter registration? If there isn’t anything shady about his registration,why would Rouse refrain from discussing it?
Perhaps this is because the address that Rouse used for his voter registration is none other than that of Tasergate initiator and best friend of Rouse, Kim Elton, who now works under Secretary Salazar in the Interior Department. Governor Palin writes in her book, Going Rogue, on page 369:
Rouse had lived in Alaska many years before, returning only on a couple of occasions over the last decade.Yet, somehow, though he actually resides on the East Coast, and has for years, he still votes in Alaska through a voter registration address on Main Street in Juneau– an address once shared by Alaska State Senator Kim Elton on voter rolls.
Interestingly, a new story published by the ADN Friday reported that Rouse dropped his Alaska voter registration on March 18th of this year. So, in spite of the fact that Rouse is no longer an Alaskan voter, he had been voting in Alaska for 27 years following his move to Washington D.C. and for 21 years after even visiting the place where he was voting absentee.
Alaska voting rules state the following:
For voting purposes, you are considered an Alaska resident if you reside in the state and intend to remain here or you leave with the intent to return.
Rouse has not lived in Alaska for twenty-seven years, and he has not even visited the city where his votes are cast for twenty-one years. That’s definitely not residence in Alaska, and how can that be seen as "intent to return" to residency? Just to put this in perspective, the last time Rouse actually lived in Alaska, the average house price was under $83,000, President Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative, and Michael Jackson’s "Beat It" hit number 1. How could Rouse remain eligible to vote in Alaska?
Additionally, Whorunsgov.com, which is maintained by the Washington Post, states that Rouse registered to vote in DC on March 11th and, as previously mentioned, the ADN reported that Rouse dropped his Alaskan registration on March 18th. This indicates that Rouse was briefly registered in two jurisdictions at once. Both Alaska and DC voting rules indicate that you cannot be registered in multiple places simultaneously, meaning Rouse was in violation of those rules by essentially asserting that his primary residence was in both Alaska and Washington D.C..
However, that was not the first time that Rouse tried to claim "residency" in multiple places. Whosrunsgov.com also states that Rouse claimed homestead exemption in DC in 2009. Homestead exemption laws are aimed at protecting one’s primary residence. While Rouse’s primary residence for taxation prevention purposes was in DC, his primary residence for political purposes was in Alaska. He worked the system for his own personal and political purposes.
So while the answer to the question of President Obama’s chief of staff has been answered, questions still remain. What would lead Rouse to remain a registered voter in Alaska for 27 years after moving? What led him to drop his registration in March for registration in DC? As the former Chief of Staff leaves for a potential continued political career in Chicago, it seems that the shady Chicago politics and voting strategies remain.