Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tax Authorities: Democratic Annapolis Mayor Nominee is Not a City Resident

Zina Celestine Pierre, the embattled Democratic Mayor nominee in Annapolis, has been under fire for revelations concerning her financial litigation history. But she has another problem that the media has only hinted at: state and county tax authorities regard her as a resident of Prince George’s County.

Article II, Section 3(b) of the Annapolis City Charter states, “The mayor must be a registered voter in the city for at least two (2) years immediately preceding the date of the general election.” The city’s general election is scheduled for 11/3/09. Pierre’s voter registration lists her address as 1901 McGuckian Ave Unit 231 in Annapolis.

The date on which she moved to Annapolis is unclear. She made a federal campaign contribution of $1,000 to the Democratic Party of South Carolina on 3/9/07 from Mitchellville in Prince George’s County. She then made a federal campaign contribution of $1,000 to Hillary Clinton on 2/10/08 from her Annapolis address. She must have lived in her Annapolis apartment since at least 11/3/07 to be eligible for office.

Her big problem concerns the tax status of her house at 1915 Woodshade Court in Mitchellville. The State Department of Assessments and Taxation shows her claiming it as her principal residence.

The Prince George’s County Office of Finance confirms this.

Pierre bought the house in Mitchellville for $239,269 on 10/16/98. She began claiming it as her principal residence in the 1999-2000 tax year and has claimed it ever since. She has saved a total of $4,283.94 off her property taxes due to her homestead tax credit, including $1,393.09 in the 2009-2010 tax year, when she was registered to vote in Annapolis. The Prince George’s County Government is entitled to question whether Pierre should have received homestead tax credits for the period during which she claimed to be an Annapolis resident for purposes of compliance with city election law.

It’s an open question whether Pierre is complying with the letter of the law since it only refers to voter registration, not home ownership. But the GOP can make the case that she is not complying with the spirit of the law, is improperly claiming property tax credits and is in any case a carpet bagger. This is a true debacle for the Democrats.

Credit: Paul Foer of Annapolis Capital Punishment began putting together this story yesterday.