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During my time as a community organizer, I had the honor of getting to know several people who represent Congressional Districts in the suburbs of Washington, DC. While they'll probably never say it in a public speech, I've heard many of them talk about how they're lucky they're from a district so close to DC because it means they don't have to spend so much time flying back and forth between Washington and their home district. It also means they have the added benefit of doing work on Capitol Hill during the day and making appearances at community events in the weekend (something that can help the next time they're up for reelection.

Of course, there's also some financial benefit for them because they don't have to worry about maintaining two separate residencies. As most people from the DC area know, even basic apartments in the area are relatively expensive when it's your only residence. Add on another residence in your home district and the cost can be quite heavy.

Every so often, you'll see this issue addressed when articles in some of the Capitol Hill newspapers talk about Members of Congress sleeping in their office during the week in order to save money. By some reports, as many as one fifth of all House freshmen actually sleep in their offices and their estimated to save about $20,000 a year by doing so.

While most stories take a light-hearted angle to the story, there are some people who actually use sleeping in their offices as a way to prove they don't really live in DC. The obvious implication being that any member of Congress who actually owns a home in the DC area is simply become a creature of Washington and therefore cannot properly represent their district. I don't buy into that argument at all, but it appears as though the sentiment has caused at least some concerns for Ed Markey's bid to fill John Kerry's seat in the Senate.

The Boston Globe published an article today that talked about how he's never been able to fully shake questions about his residency even though he's been reelected by large margins ever since he joined the House of Representatives almost 40 years ago. The crutch of the article is that Markey claims his childhood home (which he now owns) as his place of residence in Malden, but he also owns a home in Chevy Chase, MD. His critics claim that he spends too much time staying in that Maryland home and has therefore lost touch with the folks in his home state.

This isn't the first time we've heard stories about Markey's residency. When he was still rumored to be the potential GOP candidate the replace Kerry, for instance, Scott Brown took a jab at Markey during a radio interview that caused the subject to make headlines.

“I’ll tell you what; They’re making it awfully tempting. You got Ed Markey: Does he even live here any more?” Brown said on the “Jim Margery Show” on WTKK-FM, a local Boston radio station, when asked if he was going to run.

“You’ve got to check the travel records. I’ve come back and forth (from Washington to Boston) every weekend, almost, for three years, and I see, you know, most of the delegation, and I have never seen Ed on the airplane – ever,” he said.

Brown's comments are very telling about the claims that Markey doesn't really live in Massachusetts. The former senator is basically arguing that Markey can't really live in Malden because the two didn't see each other in the airport. Markey's opponent in 2010 made similar comments when he taped a video featuring people who claimed they don't see the Congressman just hanging around town.

To help illustrate why these are ridiculous comments, pick one of your own acquaintances that live a couple miles away from you. The two of you might shop at the same grocery store, have kids at the same schools, and work relatively close to each other as well, but I'm sure you've sometimes gone several weeks without seeing the person (maybe even months). And unless you happen to hop on the T at the same time, I'm sure you don't frequently see each other commuting to work. Do you ever doubt that the person still actually lives where they claim to live though?

Of course, Scott Brown and former opponents aren't the only people who have made some ridiculous claims about Markey's residency. A Mass Live article, for instance, quotes a business owner in Massachusetts claiming Markey's a "no show around here" because he doesn't understand the needs of small businesses. I don't know about you, but I sure think that sounds like comments someone would make if they simply don't like the Congressman's politics. And the person who was quoted as saying "he does parades, that's it," simply doesn't seem to like politicians in general

Despite those quotes, the real situation seems to be found in other parts of that same article on Mass Live. The article features several different people from a variety of political backgrounds (including Republican elected officials) who talk about frequently seeing Markey around town. And he's not just doing the parades either (though he apparently did unexpectedly show up to watch a city council meeting, but sat in the back and was wearing gym clothes).

People talked about seeing him playing basketball at the YMCA (not really the place you'd expected someone to go play some ball if they were a Washington elitist), eating lunch at local restaurants, and simply visiting various members of the community. I think the best description came from a local resident named Joe Levine.

Joe Levine, who has lived across the street from Markey for 50 years, said he has seen Markey at the home consistently, before and after Markey bought it. “I don’t count the times that I see him. He seems to pop up every time I go walk my dog or every time I’m taking a run or if I’m at the basketball park,” Levine said.

“He’s not there obviously every day because he has a job in Washington,” Levine said. “I do see him often.”

That's the sentiment I share. He has a job to do in Washington and it shouldn't matter if he stays in a comfortable house there or if he sleeps on the couch in his office like some other House members. Even if he was sleeping on the couch, after all, the couch wouldn't make him any closer to Malden. In fact, you could argue that staying on Capitol Hill 24/7 would actually make those who stay in the office more susceptible to the political culture
Poll

Should we care that Markey owns a house in the DC area?

2%1 votes
79%34 votes
18%8 votes

| 43 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  People forget that the Swift Boat Liars for Bush (6+ / 0-)

    always had a welcomed place in the Boston Globe's pages.

    They didn't go to the Herald, they went to the Globe. They knew that if the Globe put them forward, they would have credibility they wouldn't have if they broke in the trashy local wingnut tabloid. Each and every time John Kerry ran for re-election for his Senate seat, the Swifties reared their ugly heads in the local liberal paper of record.

    The Herald Op/Ed page would follow up, as would local wingnut talk radio, and use the Fox News style rhetoric and headlines before Fox News even existed, but the stories had heft and seriousness because of where they were born in those races they rose up in.

    People think of the Globe as the liberal paper and the Herald as the wingnut rag, but sometimes the Herald couldn't do what it does without an assist from the local non-wingnut press engaging in credibility washing Movement Conservatism's bad faith and ratfucking.

    After the absolute failure of the Boston Herald's Elizabeth Warren smear campain about her native American heritage, we are back to the old game.

    If all the Herald-driven and spawned smears about Warren began in the Globe, they have more traction and more seriousness. In Boston and in the Beltway.

    Markey’s Malden water bills suggest he is there infrequently, paying only the monthly minimum for service. Mortgage documents on his two homes tell an ambiguous tale, with both homes listed at various points as his primary residences. House records show that he and his staff have spent less annually from his official budget on travel over the last four years than any of the state’s other House members, which could suggest he travels back to his district less often. budget on travel over the last four years than any of the state’s other House members, which could suggest he travels back to his district less often.

    At the same time, longtime neighbors in Malden, and local politicians, say Markey is part of their community and is active in using his position to push local development and public works projects. The question has never become a big enough problem to prompt a strong electoral opponent, a further indication that it may not be viewed as a major concern to those in his district.

    There is no rule or law that dictates how much time a congressman must live in his or her home district. House members typically leave their families in their districts during the week and return when House business concludes Thursday evening. But in recent decades, the pressure on lawmakers to live in their hometowns has increased.

    Teach the Controversy classic. This is some seriously 'some people say' lazy shit. Which is not surprising, because the Right needs to find a water-carrier and they found theirs.

    What has always troubled me is how easy it is for the Rove/Atwater crowd to find somebody at the Globe to help them do it. The Warren smears wouldn't have had the racist Archie Bunker "Prairie Pocahontas" headlines and rhetoric, but they would have been taken more seriously by the beltway if they had been a creature of the Globe and not the Herald.

    Ed Markey will be the next Senator from Massachusetts, I sincerely believe that.

    But it's aggravating and troubling that, even after the Bush era, the Boston Globe will play 'report the controvery' ball with ratfuckers and bad faith Republicans.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 04:48:07 PM PST

  •  LOL this is sick (6+ / 0-)

    Call us when Markey tries to claim residency status depending upon which tax dodge works out in his favor like Mitt Romney did!

  •  Folks forget Bush Sr used a hotel room in (8+ / 0-)

    Houston to establish residency so he could be a Representative from TX.  Wingers have also complained about Feinstein's use of air travel to travel back and forth.  Since they are originalists, I am surprised they have not advocated the necessity for officials to use horse drawn carriages to commute, esp, the ones from Alaska and Hawaii  

  •  Mitt Romney (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DownstateDemocrat, Calamity Jean

    Claimed he lived in his son's basement when he ran for Governor.  Can you even Mitt & Ann living in a basement?

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011)

    by Rosalie907 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 11:59:36 PM PST

  •  Markey is amazing in person (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    semiot, Bryan Scrafford

    He turned up out of the blue at our ward caucus soon after redistricting made him our Congressman instead of Rep Capuano.  Our precinct group was about 15 people and he just stopped by, introduced himself and answered questions from us lefties who were a little concerned about the possible differences between him and Capuano.  After he spoke to us with as much interest and passion as if we had been thousands, I stopped regretting Capuano. It was a joy to see how much he knew and loved his job, how seriously he took it.  And how lucky we were that we had representatives like him and Capuano here in Ma!

    •  I've heard of this a lot (0+ / 0-)

      I've heard of Markey just showing up at various meetings a lot. I think this says a lot because it goes to show he's willing to show up even when he's now guaranteed time to give a stump speech.

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