DES MOINES, Iowa — Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald ruled Monday that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver lives with his family in Ankeny rather than an apartment in Grimes.
Whitver, a Republican, has served in the Iowa Senate since 2011. Redistricting–which occurs every ten years using population data from the U.S. Census Bureau–created new boundary lines that lessened the number of registered Republicans where Whitver lived. Rather than face a potentially more competitive re-election challenge, Whitver established residency at an apartment that he has owned with his wife in Grimes since 2019. The couple previously rented the property to tenants.
Whitver won the election in November in the new Senate District 23. But Grimes resident Amy Gale challenged whether Whitver actually lived in the Grimes. Last Wednesday, the Polk County auditor’s office heard the challenge. Gale contended that social media posts and water bills show that Ankeny continued to live with his family in Ankeny rather than the Grimes apartment and that would violate state law that required him to reside within the district that he wanted to represent at least 60 days before the election.
But in Fitzgerald’s ruling posted on the Polk County auditor’s website, he wrote, “Challenger’s dated social media, websites and water bill evidence prior to Mr. Whitver’s September 2022 move to Grimes is found to be insufficient to overcome the presumption that Mr. Whitver’s declared residency is valid and his submitted evidence. I conclude Mr. Whitver is a resident at the 3400 Glenstone Dr., Unit 11 Grimes, IA 50111 address where he is registered. The challenge is therefore rejected.”
Whitver’s aide Caleb Hunter sent out a statement in response to Fitzgerald’s ruling:
“Auditor Fitzgerald made the correct decision today to uphold the clear language of the law. Senator Whitver appreciates his decision to set partisanship aside and follow the law. Now, two different Democrat-controlled hearings have determined Senator Whitver’s residency and voter registration are legal.
The evidence is clear and unmistakable. Senator Whitver legally resides in a property he owns with multiple utility bills and other documents showing residence and occupancy. He established residence in Grimes more than sixty days before the general election as required by the Iowa Constitution.
In addition to his currently established residence in Grimes, Senator Whitver and his wife signed a contract last summer to purchase a lot near Polk City within the boundaries of Senate District 23. The plat was just recently finalized in mid-November and they expect to close on that lot before the end of 2022. Senator Whitver continues to maintain the residency requirements of Iowa law.
The individuals pursuing this challenge are advocating for a dangerous precedent. Canceling a voter registration with such an overwhelming amount of supporting evidence would have a chilling effect on voter registration, voter participation, and public engagement in the electoral process. These Democrat activists should think long and hard about continuing to pursue this anti-democracy challenge, the dangerous precedent it could set, the potential unintended consequences, and the chilling effect it may have on voter participation.
Senator Whitver looks forward to the start of the 2023 legislative session.
Nothing in the state law requires Whitver’s family to live in the residence that he claims or that he would be required to use a certain amount of water in that residence.”Caleb Hunter, aide to Sen. Whitver