Sen. Richard Lugar defended himself during an appearance in Indianapolis on Monday that came days after opponents claimed that he isn't qualified to run for office because he doesn't live in the state.
Lugar said two attorneys general have affirmed his position that the Indianapolis address on his Indiana driver's license is valid, even though he sold that home in 1977.
Lugar said he and his wife sold their house in Indianapolis because the only way they could afford to keep the family together and be part of their sons' school and after-school activities was to move to Washington, D.C. full time and buy a home there.
"We had a home that we had built in Indianapolis with room for our four boys and our family. It was too expensive, at least for us at that time in our lives, to maintain two houses," Lugar said. "So we sold the house the following year after we had been elected."
Lugar said he's confident that the previous ruling passes legal muster and that voters won't hold the situation against him.
"We've had the issue for the whole time I've served in the Senate," Lugar said. "This is why I asked for a ruling early on, when I was first elected, to make certain the residence situation was proper and correct."
Lugar also owns a farmhouse where his son lives, but he said he will not take that as his official residence because it wouldn't be accurate.
Lugar said he isn't sure what address is on his Indiana driver's license but presumes it was from the house he no longer owns.
RTV6's Norman Cox
asked Lugar if he gets mail about license renewals from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and responded by saying that he goes to the BMV branch directly to conduct renewals.
"When I've renewed my driver's licenses, I've come here to a proper office in Indianapolis and renewed it," he said.
Lugar and Gov. Mitch Daniels were in Indianapolis for the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series Annual Event, at which Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman received an Outstanding Public Servant Award. The program trains young Republican women involved in politics.
Last week, an Indiana tea party group accused Lugar of voter fraud and sought to have him removed from the ballot.
A complaint concerning Lugar's residency was filed in November. The tea party group supports Treasurer Richard Mourdock in his bid to oust Lugar in the primary election.
If Lugar wins the primary, he'll face Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, who officially kicked off his campaign Monday.
He told reporters that voters he meets are questioning Lugar's status. Donnelly wouldn't say if he'll make residency a campaign issue, but did stress that he comes home almost every weekend.
"My ability to do my job comes from sitting in restaurants in Rochester and going to fish fries in LaPorte and visiting schools in my district and meeting with folks back home," he said.
The Indiana Election Commission is set to meet this week to consider Lugars situation.
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