Brock changes his account of state residency

April 23, 1994|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Former Tennessee Sen. William E. Brock, whose Republican Senate candidacy must overcome charges of carpetbagging," has offered differing accounts of when he became a Maryland resident.

Last December, as he was preparing to run for Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes' seat, Mr. Brock said in response to a reporter's question that he had lived in Annapolis since 1985.

Now, Mr. Brock says he became a full-time Annapolis resident in 1990. He says that between 1986 and 1990 he split his time between Annapolis and a home in Washington, D.C., spending a "majority of the time" at the Annapolis house.

Asked why he changed his account, Mr. Brock deflected the question yesterday by insisting that 1986 "was when I told you we made the decision" to live in Annapolis. "We were transitioning" between 1986 and 1990.

The change in Mr. Brock's account may have occurred because public records raise questions about his residency claim. He did not register to vote in Anne Arundel County until October 1988 and did not obtain a Maryland driver's license until December 1991, when he surrendered a Washington license.

And he confirmed yesterday that he did not begin to pay Maryland income taxes until 1990. Before that, he said, he had paid local income taxes in Washington.

Residency has been a factor in the last three Maryland Senate campaigns. Linda Chavez, the GOP candidate who lost to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski in 1986, and Alan L. Keyes, the Republican who was defeated by Mr. Sarbanes in 1988 and by Ms. Mikulski in 1992, moved to Maryland when they came to Washington to work in government. They were labeled "carpetbaggers" during their campaigns.

In 1991, Mr. Brock briefly considered -- not seriously, he says, -- running for governor of Tennessee this year.

He has been sensitive to the residency issue, saying repeatedly that he is a "Marylander by choice." A month ago, after winning a straw poll at a Montgomery County Republican dinner, getting 345 votes to 87 for Ruthann Aron of Potomac and 37 for C. Ronald Franks of Grasonville, he said, "I think it puts the carpetbagger issue to rest as far as Republicans are concerned."

He has distributed a campaign biography that begins: "Over twenty years ago, Bill Brock, like so many other Marylanders today, was drawn to this great state by the spectacular waters of the Chesapeake Bay. When you ask him to think back on those early days in Maryland . . ."

RTC The biography does not offer specific information on how long Mr. Brock has lived in Maryland, but says he "found himself spending more and more time" here after 1985. In addition to his Annapolis residency, he says, he lived in Montgomery County between 1966 and 1971, when he represented Tennessee in the House of Representatives.

Mr. Brock said yesterday, "Your residence is where you say it is. It's where your intentions are, where your family is, where you spend time, where you want to be."

According to the candidate and public records:

* Mr. Brock and his wife have owned several houses in Annapolis, beginning in November 1986.

* Mr. Brock registered to vote in Anne Arundel County in October 1988, according to Nancy Crawford, the county elections board administrator. She said records show that Mr. Brock voted in the general elections of 1988 and 1990 by absentee ballot and in person in the 1992 general election, but that he did not vote in the Republican primaries in 1988 and 1990. He says he thought (( he had voted.

* Mr. Brock obtained a Maryland driver's license, turning in a Washington, D.C. license, on Dec. 13, 1991.

Mr. Brock said he would make public tax returns -- "anything you want" -- that would show how long he has paid Maryland taxes. But he refused to authorize the state comptroller's office to verify that he has paid them since 1990.

His finances became an issue in his unsuccessful re-election campaign in Tennessee in 1976, when he refused to release his tax returns. It turned out that he had paid little in taxes that year because, he said yesterday, he suffered a "sizable loss on a real estate investment."

Asked if he was trying to avoid a similar controversy in Maryland by releasing the returns on his own, he replied: "Sure."

"If I'm going to be criticized as wealthy," he said, the criticism should be factual.

Ms. Aron, speaking through an aide, and Mr. Franks said yesterday that they, too, will release their tax returns.

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