Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 – 12:22 am
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 – 12:31 am

It’s no secret that quite a few state legislators actually live outside districts they represent even though state law and constitution require them to reside in their districts.

However, it’s also no secret that most local prosecutors are reluctant to bring charges against legislators who live in one place – at least when they are not in Sacramento – but register to vote at addresses of convenience inside their districts.

A big exception has been the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which has successfully prosecuted nine politicians, both local and legislative, for violating the residency law.

The most recent is former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon, but the best known is state Sen. Rod Wright, who’s awaiting sentencing after conviction on charges of lying about his “domicile,” as the law puts it.

There are those who say it’s not a real crime. After all, they point out, members of Congress are not required to live in their districts and often don’t.

Republican Congressman Tom McClintock, for instance, represents a Sierra foothill district but lives in a Sacramento suburb – the same place in which he lived while representing Southern California districts in the Legislature.

And there are those who say – Wright made this argument – that a law passed by the Legislature in 1984 to protect its members from prosecution and signed by then-Gov. George Deukmejian makes the practice legal by declaring, “The domicile of a member of the Legislature … shall be conclusively presumed to be at the residence address indicated on that person’s currently filed affidavit of registration.”

Wright was charged with registering to vote in an Inglewood apartment in his Senate district while actually living in a tonier Baldwin Hills neighborhood outside the district.

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