Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein wants state election officials to rule on whether he meets the residency requirements to hold the office.
Immediately after filing paperwork to officially launch his candidacy against Gov. Maggie Hassan in Concord on Wednesday, Havenstein submitted a petition to the state Ballot Law Commission, asking for an expedited hearing on the residency issue.
The request for a ruling is an effort to head off a legal challenge to Havenstein’s candidacy from New Hampshire Democrats. They say Havenstein is ineligible to run because he claimed primary residency in Maryland in order to obtain a property-tax exemption on a Bethesda condominium.
“Some of my competitors, opposition, have made an issue of this through the early part of this campaign,” he said. “And so rather than wait for their frivolous complaint, I’m going to go ahead and solicit [a] petition today, to get clarification as quickly as I possibly can, to put this to rest.”
State election statutes say a gubernatorial candidate must be a “resident and inhabitant” of New Hampshire for seven years to be eligible for the office.
In the petition, Havenstein said he and his wife, Judy, have lived in New Hampshire since 1999 – first in Bedford, then in Alton, where the couple moved in 2004.
At the time, Havenstein was president of BAE Systems Integrated Warfare Systems and based in Nashua.
Beginning in 2005, Havenstein received a series of promotions that he says required him to “commute” to Maryland. In January 2007, he became chairman and CEO of BAE Systems Inc., which is headquartered in Rockville, Md., and “to accommodate this work arrangement,” Havenstein says he bought the condominium in Bethesda.
Among the documents Havenstein submitted to the Ballot Law Commission is an affidavit, signed in January 2007, that affirms the condominium was intended as the couple’s “principal residence” for at least seven of the next 12 months.
The document was necessary for Havenstein to claim a transfer-tax exemption on the first $50,000 of the condo’s value.
A second affidavit submitted by Havenstein affirms that the couple were first-time homebuyers in Maryland who will occupy the property as a “principal residence.”
Maryland law defines principal residence as "one dwelling where the homeowner regularly resides and is the location designated by the owner for the legal purposes of voting, obtaining a driver's license, and filing income tax returns."
Havenstein’s petition argues that declaring residence in Maryland does not mean he surrendered “his domicile” in New Hampshire. “Rather," the petition claims, "Mr. Havenstein always considered New Hampshire to be his domicile since he moved to New Hampshire in 1999 and always intended to return to his home in New Hampshire after his temporary employment ended."
While “temporarily residing in Maryland for work,” Havenstein says he remained registered to vote in New Hampshire and voted in Alton "on numerous occasions, either in person or by absentee ballot."
He says he bought a car in Maryland and obtained a Maryland driver’s license. But he submitted an affidavit from the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles that said he and his wife registered vehicles in New Hampshire “consistently and consecutively” since 2005.
Havenstein also submitted redacted partial copies of federal and state tax forms in which he used his Alton address as proof that he has remained a New Hampshire resident.
In a statement, Havenstein said he’s confident of his eligibility to run for governor.
“I could wait for my opponents to file their frivolous claims, but I’m so certain of the result that I want the ruling as quickly as possible,” he said. “This has been an attempt by Democrats to distract from the issues that matter to Granite Staters: jobs, the economy and Maggie Hassan’s financial management.”
Meanwhile, Democrats launched a separate line of attack on Havenstein.
A new video and website links Havenstein to a contracting scandal while he was CEO of Scientific Applications International Corporation that cost New York City taxpayers an estimated $600 million in cost overruns.
Havenstein ran SAIC from September 2009 to March 2012. Democrats say that under his watch, the company failed to investigate allegations that SAIC’s manager of the CityTime payroll project had defrauded the city. SAIC eventually paid $500 million to settle fraud and money-laundering charges brought by federal prosecutors.
Democrats also say Havenstein is to blame for the loss of thousands of jobs at SAIC during his tenure, when the company’s stock dropped 32 percent.
Havenstein’s campaign pushed back, arguing that he was the “driving force” behind SAIC’s effort to “clean up” the contracting scandal. It released its own web video that portrays Havenstein as a “thoughtful, experienced” leader at BAE Systems, but did not mention his time at SAIC.
Republican Andrew Hemingway is expected to file paperwork this week to enter the governor's race. The primary is September 9.