Saturday, August 23, 2008

Corte registers to vote at a vacant lot - Dems say Corte can't run from House district

By Gary Scharrer - San Antonio Express-News - Aug. 22, 2008
AUSTIN — San Antonio state Rep. Frank Corte must be declared ineligible to run for re-election this fall because the place he claims as a residence is nothing but a vacant lot, the Texas Democratic Party said in a letter Thursday to Republican Party officials.

Chad Dunn, a lawyer for Texas Democrats, provided Bexar GOP Chairman Richard Langlois with public documents showing that Corte lists 4203 Honeycomb St. as his residence. It is a vacant lot in northwest San Antonio.

But Corte said he plans to build a house on that lot, where he once had a residence.

“As long as I intend to return — that's my residence,” Corte said.

Corte applied for a permit to have the house moved in the fall of 2006, according to documents. But Corte listed the vacant lot as his residence when filing for re-election on Dec. 17, 2007, and on a legally required personal financial statement last summer.

“There's no house. There's no shed. There's no cot. There's no way that Mr. Corte's living at the address that he certified as his residency,” Dunn said. “It's as serious as can be when it comes to eligibility of somebody who wants to serve in the Legislature.”

The issue is a nonstory, Corte said, because lawyers have assured him that he can claim that spot as his residence so long as he intends to return. Corte said he currently lives with his family in an apartment complex located about one-quarter mile from the Honeycomb location.

State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, represents the area where Corte has taken up temporary residence.

Corte wouldn't say when he plans to start building a new home at his Honeycomb address.

“What process I'm in is irrelevant. I intend to return,” he said.

The documents “conclusively establish that Frank Corte, Jr. knowingly and materially misrepresented facts on his ballot application and is not a resident of District 122, Texas House of Representatives and is therefore not entitled to election to that office,” Dunn said in the letter to Republican Party officials.

Langlois did not return a phone call.

The deadline for replacing a candidate on the Nov. 4 election ballot is today, Dunn reminded Langlois in the letter.

Inaction could result in a legal ruling against Corte's candidacy and the inability for Republicans to field a candidate, Dunn said.

Corte has represented the area in the state House since his first election in 1992. It's considered a Republican district.

If Corte is declared ineligible, Democrats could improve their chances to regain control of the state House. They need to pick up five seats in the November election, and Corte's district is not one of the Democrats' targeted districts. Democrat Frances Carnot is running for the seat.
Read more in San Antonio Express News

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