According to a decision by Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald, Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver is a legal resident of a Grimes apartment where there has been scarce water usage for months and where his family does not reside.
Fitzgerald announced his decision in a Monday press release a few days after a hearing was conducted to determine whether or not Whitver was actually a resident of a Grimes apartment he owns and is registered to vote from.
Whitver, a Republican, said he would move to run for Iowa Senate District 23 which includes Grimes, parts of eastern Dallas County, and northern and eastern sections of Polk County. Some of the district overlaps with Whitver’s former Ankeny-anchored district.
Whitver owns several residential properties and his wife and three children still reside in an Ankeny home that he was previously registered to vote at, where his businesses are still legally registered at, and where he voted from during a March special city election.
Grimes Resident Ann Gale made the challenge to Whitver’s residency after an Oct. 26 KCRG report questioned where he actually lived after water bills showed a lack of use at Whitver’s Grimes apartment.
Whitver did not attend his own hearing but he and his wife provided sworn affidavits to Fitzgerald via attorney Charlie Smithson, who was his representative. Smithson nor Fitzgerald provided copies of the affidavit or other exhibits that prove Whitver lives in the apartment to the media or general public.
In his ruling, Fitzgerald said the “dated social media, website, and water bill evidence prior to Mr. Whitver’s September 2022 move to Grimes is found to be insufficient to overcome the presumption that Mr. Whitver’s declared residency is valid and his submitted evidence.”
While copies of the evidence used to prove Whitver lived in the apartment weren’t shared, during the hearing Smithson said the proof included photos of a furnished apartment, a package mailed to the apartment, a slightly increased water bill, and dated and time-stamped Apple Maps screenshots showing him at the apartment at various times of the night.
Whitver’s water bill covering Sept. 10-Oct. 10 was $15.32, which includes $9.45 for water, a $5 monthly minimum, and $0.87 in sales tax. The $15.32 water bill is the minimum amount that service provider Thorpe Water Development Co. charges each month if a person uses less than a 1,000 gallons of water.
During the hearing, Shayla McCormally, an attorney for the Grimes woman who challenged Whitver’s residency, showed that since 2004, Whitver has voted in every municipal, school, special, primary, and general election including a March 2022 special city election in Ankeny, but he didn’t vote in June’s primary or November’s general election.
Starting Line reached out to McCormally for a response and to see if Gale would challenge Fitzgerald’s decision in district court. While Gale gave no indication if she would take further legal action, she did provide a comment via McCormally:
“While I have the utmost respect for our county auditor, I am disappointed in the decision about my challenge to Senator Whitver’s voter registration. The ruling seems to confuse the issue. I was not challenging his ownership of property, but where he actually resides. His own water, gas and electric bills show Senator Whitver did not live in Grimes until October. Senator Whitver does not seem to take his representation of us seriously and even sent a state employee on his behalf to respond to the challenge instead of appearing personally.
“I still believe that the citizens in Iowa Senate District 23 are best served by representatives who are invested in our communities and live in our district.”
Whitver’s spokesperson Caleb Hunter told KCCI he thinks Fitzgerald made the correction decision to “uphold the clear language of the law.”
“The evidence is clear and unmistakable,” Hunter said. “Senator Whitver legally resides in a property he owns with multiple utility bills and other documents showing residence and occupancy. He established residence in Grimes more than 60 days before the general election as required by the Iowa Constitution.”
Whitver has owned the Grimes apartment he now claims as his residence since September 2019, almost two full years before redistricting. In his affidavit, Whitver said he moved into the apartment on Sept. 4, 2022, 65 days before Election Day.
Story was updated with comments from Ann Gale.
by Ty Rushing
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