Thu November 1, 2012
Judge to Rule on Friday Whether Thieneman Can Stay on Ballot
A Jefferson County Circuit judge is expected to rule Friday on whether Republican state Senate candidate Chris Thieneman will be on the ballot next Tuesday.
Thieneman is challenging Democratic incumbent Perry Clark in a tight race that could give the GOP a larger majority in the chamber. Thus far, Thieneman has raised over $172,00 compared to $85,000 from Clark and observers are paying close attention.
Last week, a Democratic activist Robert Walker filed a lawsuit against Thieneman that questioned his residency in the 37th state Senate District in south Louisville.
Louisville attorney Jennifer Moore is representing Walker. She said testimony and a voter oath form shows that Thieneman has not lived in district for at least one year.
"I don’t think there’s any question that last year when he voted in the general election he lived outside the district," she said. "And now he’s trying to tell the voters that he’s lived inside the district for the last year. And when you look at that voter form, he signed under penalty of perjury that he lived outside the district. That’s what I believe."
Jefferson County property records show that Thieneman owns a home located at 2606 Alia Circle, but he lists a 7650 Dixie Highway address on his state Board of Elections paperwork. The focus of the suit is on Thieneman's residence up to November 8, 2011 and whether it was a motel on Dixie Highway or an apartment above a storage facility that he owns.
At a hearing last week, John Paul Davis, who is president of the Cliff View Homeowners Association, testified that Thieneman lived at the East End penthouse condo location. After being cross-examined, however, Davis said he only saw Thieneman at the complex once or twice a month and that those conversations took place at least a year ago.
Thieneman’s lawyer says Davis backpedaled on most his of affidavit claims and the Kentucky Democratic Party is trying to disenfranchise voters.
"They bring this case a week before the election. There’s no doubt in my mind there are political motivations to the timing of this lawsuit," says attorney Jason Nemes. "It’s a very tight election and they wouldn’t bring it if they thought they were going to win. As I said at the first trial, they’re trying to do courtroom that which they can’t do at a ballot box."
In a previous lawsuit filed before the GOP primary, a judge ruled that Thieneman was a legal resident, and Nemes disputed evidence suggesting Thieneman was living at a motel.
"He didn't live there," says Nemes. "His testimony is that he stayed there for two nights. But he didn't live there and never did."
Moore, who is a former state Democratic party chair, says a voter oath form signed by Thieneman and hearing testimony proves he lived in a motel room outside the district.
"On Election Day 2011, Mr. Thieneman swore under oath that he resided outside the 37th district. He's now trying to tell this court that he didn't live there. That he voted somewhere he didn't actually reside," she says. "If that's true, which I don't believe that it is, then he committed voter fraud."
Thieneman has run for Congress, Jefferson County clerk and Louisville mayor in previous year. He says the suit is affecting the race against Clark by stopping important fundraisers and depressing his supporters.
"It has already affected me. It’s attacked my fundraising abilities," says Thieneman. "I think the cloud as long as it’s over my head is always going to be questioning. We’ve already been sued over this and we kicked their butts the last time."
Circuit Judge Charles Cunningham says he'll rule on Friday.