THE BLOG
12/15/2010 12:53 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Rahm's Residency Row: Much Ado About Nothing

The legal issue involved when it comes to Rahm Emanuel's residency row, is his domicile. Don't take my word for it though.

Here is the Wikipedia take: "In law, domicile is the status or attribution of being a permanent resident in a particular jurisdiction. A person can remain domiciled in a jurisdiction even after they have left it, if they have maintained sufficient links with that jurisdiction or have not displayed an intention to leave permanently."

Rahm Emanuel has maintained sufficient links with Chicago and the state of Illinois even after leaving and has never displayed an intention to leave permanently.

During his residency hearing this week, news reports show that Emanuel testified under oath that while temporarily working in Washington, DC doing the president's bidding, he still voted by absentee ballot in Illinois as an Illinois resident. This means he did not cancel his Illinois voter's registration, nor did he register to vote in Washington, DC or Maryland or Virginia. Additionally, he continued to file tax returns as an Illinois resident and to pay property taxes here. That constitutes sufficient links.

Yes, Emanuel and his family chose to rent out their house in their absence. But they never sought to sell it. That shows an intent to return. An intent to keep Chicago and Illinois as his domicile. He could have put his house up for sale if he had no desire to return.

So, why did he rent out his house? Because you cannot insure a vacant house. Call up any insurance company. He had to have the house occupied in order to carry a homeowner's insurance policy on it. Insurance companies will not issue a homeowner's policy on a vacant house. Okay, he could have let someone live there for free. But why should he? Instead, he has a tenant who reportedly did not tell him the truth about a previous landlord's reference. This may give Emanuel grounds for not honoring his lease with that tenant, evicting him, and then moving his family back into their own house.

Anyone who has ever talked to Emanuel knows that he has always considered Chicago to be his home and always intended to return to Chicago. Heck, last spring he gave an interview that created quite a stir at the time to PBS's Charlie Rose in which he talked about returning to Chicago and his desire to run for mayor. How much more intent do you need to show?

Let's not forget that this is not the first president that Emanuel has worked for. When I interviewed him for Chicago Life magazine at the White House when he worked for President Bill Clinton in 1998, he told me then that Chicago would always be his home and that he intended to return to Chicago, and he did return to Chicago a few months after that interview. He left the Clinton administration to return to Chicago to work as an investment banker, and then later he ran for Congress.

Let's stop the politically motivated residency hearing charade and get on with the mayoral campaign. This is a waste of time and taxpayer money, and frankly is a frivolous challenge. The public wants to hear about the issues Chicago faces and solutions. There is a finite amount of time here better spent in other ways. Let's set up some televised debates and quit the residency wrangling.