Congressman Ed Markey (D-Malden) has been around the world on legislative missions.
He’s the dean of the Massachusetts federal delegation, a 34-year sitting elected official; the 13th most senior member of the Congress.
He’s been around Winthrop over the years and people know him.
And to know him, is to like him.
He’s been to Stockholm too, representing the voters of Massachusetts and the entire United States – an expert on global warming and climate issues.
He is not a provincial man like so many of his colleagues in the Congress.
But during this election year of deep voter discontent people are looking into places they haven’t looked prior, and one of those places is 7 Townsend St. in Malden – Markey’s official residence.
This week – following a contentious debate that aired on Fox 25 News last Thursday with his opponent, Republican Dr. Gerry Dembrowski of Waltham – public records have been disclosed that raise some questions about where Markey really lives.
The Markey Committee said they have been fielding such claims for the past several weeks now, and contend that all of the accusations are false and that it is an act of desperation from a candidate with no message.
"Dembrowski has a plan to slash social security and Medicare so he can pay for tax cuts for millionaires. He doesn’t want to debate the real issues," said Kate Bazinsky, political and finance director for the Markey Committee.
The first public record drawing question is a water bill from the City of Malden.
That water and sewer bill covers the period between July 1, 2010 and Oct. 1, 2010. In that four-month period, the 7 Townsend St. residence has used only miniscule amounts of water and was only billed $21.71 for that four-month period.
By comparison, the MWRA Advisory Board’s annual rate survey showed that in 2009, Winthrop residents paid an average of $130 per month and nearly $1,600 a year. The average annual rate for 2009 in Malden was $986.
Markey’s Committee said that the bill produced is not a water bill at all, but actually a statement of accounts. They said that Markey had pre-paid his bill for most of the four-month period, and so that’s why the bill is so low.
However, the actual bill was not much higher.
Bazinsky said that Markey’s actual bill was between $8 and $10 per month for the four-month period – or roughly $40 for usage on the July to October billing.
A second electronic document – not an original record like the water/sewer bill – contended that Markey has an expired Massachusetts driver’s license – that it expired on July 11, 2009 and was never renewed.
Bazinsky said that the claim about the driver’s license is false. The Markey campaign was quick to produce a scanned copy of Markey’s up-to-date Massachusetts driver’s license when hearing of the allegation, completely refuting the electronic document.
"I know his license is up to date – so that claim is inaccurate," said Bazinsky.
Additionally, photographs and observations of the Townsend Street property show it’s overgrown with weeds in some areas, and not appearing as if it were lived in – at least from the outside.
Those things all point to questions about whether or not Markey truly lives in his Massachusetts residence of record.
"I know for a fact that he is living there," said Bazinsky.
Markey also owns a home in Chevy Chase, MD, which is quite a bit more upscale than his Malden home. His Chevy Chase home is assessed at $1.3 million while his Malden home is assessed at $97,500.
The home at 7 Townsend St. is Markey’s boyhood home where he grew up, and it is also a home he purchased from his parents. That has been the case for some time.
Markey’s opponent, Dembrowski, has alleged that Markey doesn’t live in Malden, doesn’t live in the Seventh Congressional District and doesn’t live in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Dembrowski says Markey lives in Maryland, and hasn’t lived in Malden for years.
"We’re not saying you don’t have to keep a residence in Washington," said Joe Manzoli of the Dembrowski campaign. "You have to have a room or an apartment or maybe even buy a house. However, residency is where you spend time when you’re not working. Where do you have a family get-together? Where do you go for Christmas, Hanukkah…and other holidays? It is clear and apparent Mr. Markey hasn’t called that place home for a very long time. We’re just calling him on it for the first time."
Dembrowski’s campaign said that it is required to live in the state according to the U.S. Constitution.
According to the Constitution – which governs requirements for Congress – one must inhabit the state where they are elected from.
"No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of 25 years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen," reads Article 1, Section 2 of the document.
However, questions to the Secretary of State’s office, through the Revere Election Commission, seemed to contradict that information.
An official at the Secretary of State’s office indicated that residency is not a requirement for Congress. All one has to have is a voter registration card to prove residency in Massachusetts.
Markey does have a valid voter registration from 7 Townsend St.
Manzoli equated the situation to Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who lost his seat in 2004 mainly due to residency.
"He was defeated primarily because he had a mailbox in South Dakota he was keeping, but was living a lavish life somewhere other than South Dakota," said Manzoli. "How can you represent people if you don’t live there?"
Markey officials said that it was important to note that Dembrowksi does not approve of Winthrop’s commuter ferry project, a project Markey worked very hard to get, as it is funded by Stimulus dollars.
"He’s against the Stimulus and against all local earmark projects," said Bazinsky.