Brock's residency questioned as GOP faithful gather CAMPAIGN 1994

July 03, 1994|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS -- With one of his opponents raising questions about his Maryland residency and payment of state income taxes, Republican Senate candidate William E. Brock gathered more than 1,000 of the party faithful at his Annapolis waterfront estate yesterday for a unity rally and picnic.

Two of his opponents in the September primary, C. Ronald Franks and Ross Z. Pierpont, joined Mr. Brock, three Republican gubernatorial candidates and dozens of aspirants for local office at the three-hour affair.

Missing was Ruthann Aron of Potomac, another Senate candidate, who says she plans to file a "formal complaint" Tuesday with the state comptroller's office, asking officials to look into the question of when Mr. Brock became a Maryland resident and should have begun to pay state taxes.

Ms. Aron said yesterday that "at various times, he has given various years" on when his residency began, and "Maryland needs to investigate if Mr. Brock owes taxes."

Mr. Brock is considered the front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination to take on three-term Democratic incumbent Paul S. Sarbanes in November.

A former Tennessee senator who was defeated in 1976, Mr. Brock has lived most of the time since his loss in the Washington area.

In December, he told a reporter he had lived in Annapolis since 1985, but in April, he said he did not become a full-time Annapolis resident until 1990, when he started paying Maryland income taxes.

He said that between 1986 and 1990 he was "transitioning" to Annapolis, living here "a majority of the time," but also spending time at a Washington home.

He registered to vote in Maryland in 1988 but did not get a state driver's license until December 1991.

Mr. Brock said yesterday that the state comptroller's office asked him recently about his Maryland residency.

His accountant, Francis Gingrich of Bethesda, responded that Mr. Brock and his wife "did not spend at least 183 days in Maryland" during "these transition years," and therefore paid income taxes in the District of Columbia through 1989.

Mr. Brock said he has heard nothing more from the comptroller's office since Mr. Gingrich wrote his June 13 letter.

Marvin Bond, spokesman for the comptroller's office, said the law prevents him from saying whether the office is continuing to look into the issue.

Mr. Bond said some tax queries are made in response to newspaper articles but there is no mechanism for filing a "formal complaint" as Ms. Aron proposes to do. He called it "grandstanding."

The "carpetbagger" issue has been a problem for the Republican Party in the past three Senate elections, as the GOP nominated candidates who had moved to the Maryland suburbs of Washington when they took jobs in the capital.

Democrats won all three elections handily.

But yesterday, Mr. Brock dismissed the matter, saying that surveys for the campaign indicate that it is not an issue. "What people want to know is: Can you make a difference in the things that matter to them -- jobs, crime, jobs, schools?" he said.

Mr. Franks, a state delegate from Queen Anne's who is also seeking the nomination, said, "The issue isn't how long he's lived here, but is he honest about it? Newspaper accounts clearly show that his original claim of residency was not accurate."

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