By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press
LA GRANGE, Ky. - Hunter Bates, insisting he has always been a Kentucky resident, concedes he paid income taxes and got a driver's license in Virginia, but that he had no choice.
Bates, running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ernie Fletcher, is the subject of a lawsuit that alleges he does not meet a requirement of Kentucky's 1891 Constitution: that a candidate for lieutenant governor must be a citizen and a resident of the state for the six years preceding election.
Bates says his residency was researched and considered when Fletcher invited him to run on the slate.
Of the lawsuit, Bates said, "It's not about law. It's about politics. ... I'm a lifelong resident of Kentucky."
A hearing on the suit began Wednesday in Oldham County Circuit Court before Judge Paul Rosenblum. Bates may take the witness stand when the hearing resumes this morning.
The suit was filed by Curtis Shain, a University of Louisville student. It since has been joined by one of Bates' Republican primary opponents, Bob Heleringer, running mate of Steve Nunn.
Bates lived in Alexandria, Va., and worked in a Washington law firm and as a top staffer for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell from 1995 until last year.
But Bates claims that he was never a permanent resident of Virginia. He says he and his wife, Jennifer, leased year-to-year in Virginia because they knew they would be returning to Kentucky.
However, Virginia law required anyone living in the state for at least six months to get a Virginia license and motor vehicle plates and to file a Virginia income tax return, according to a court brief filed by Bates' attorneys.
In any event, "the issue here is whether Hunter Bates is a constitutional resident, not whether he's a tax resident," one of his attorneys, James Milliman of Louisville, told the judge. Bates "did what Virginia law forced him to do" about being licensed and paying taxes, Milliman said.
Attorneys for Shain and Heleringer said the case should be decided on Bates' "actual residence" during the disputed period, three years of which he spent as a full-time employee of a Washington law firm.
"Whether he came back to Kentucky ... whether he was born and raised in Kentucky, all that is irrelevant," Heleringer attorney Tom Hectus said.
"When he began the private practice of law in Washington, D.C., and was living in Virginia, his residency was in Virginia," Hectus said.
Also Wednesday, Heleringer tried and failed to have Milliman removed as Bates' attorney. Before Shain filed his suit, Heleringer considered filing his own challenge to Bates' residency and called Milliman about taking his case, Heleringer said.
Ruling against Heleringer, Rosenblum concluded that the conversation entailed no confidential information that would establish a privileged, attorney-client relationship.
TRISTATE REACTS TO WAR
'I'll see you all when it's over,' Marine e-mails from the desert
Cheers, sadness in Tristate greet airstrikes
New intelligence contributed to decision to start air strikes
War 101: Conflict is center stage in some classrooms
Local Iraqi-American feels the glares
Churches, members often split on war
In war, people here turn to faith, family, TV news
Voices from the Tristate
IN THE TRISTATE
Abortion debates taken to state level
Council might rethink deal
Class act: Ring lost 40 years returned
Stroll to stadium may change
Businesses sue to stop land seizure
Restored bells ringing again
CPS examines priorities for spending in 2003-04 budget
Woman slain in apartment on quiet street in Covedale
Obituary: John E. Thomas, church deacon
Tristate A.M. Report
PULFER: Shirley Jester
HOWARD: Some Good News
BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Owners sue over lead in soil
Batavia's school chief steps down
Spring a relief for Lebanon road crews
Anonymous writer blasted
Dayton superintendent wants five schools closed
Parish united in support of priest accused of abuse
States step up terror security
Package carrying West Nile explodes at Columbus airport
Professor hopes to save dying Indian language
Brinkman only Ohio lawmaker to oppose 14th amendment
Artist master of disciplines
Span to reopen in April as Newport Southbank Bridge
NKU tuition to go up 16.4%
Covington rent law vote delayed
Drawbridge hotel drops adult movies
Head of state ACLU to take job in Calif.
Bates says he had no choice about Virginia taxes, license
ADD, autism link may be overlooked, author says
Day at the races - with hoops - to fight illness