CONCORD — The New Hampshire Democratic Party says potential Republican candidate for governor Walter Havenstein is “clearly ineligible” to run for the top New Hampshire office because he signed a tax break document for a condominium in Maryland declaring that Maryland was his “principal residence.”
A political adviser to Havenstein, however, said Tuesday that under Maryland law, Havenstein can be a “statutory resident” of that state for tax purposes but is domiciled, for voting purposes, in the Granite State.
According to a published report, under Maryland law, the principal residence is defined as the location “designated by the owner for the legal purposes of voting, obtaining a driver’s license and filing income tax returns.”
Havenstein, the former CEO of BAE Systems in Nashua, told The Telegraph of Nashua he did not recall signing that form and never voted in Maryland. He reportedly produced a form he signed in 2007, when he purchased the condo, that made no reference to a voting requirement.
Havenstein said he saved $5,354 from 2008 to 2011 by getting a homestead exemption from local property taxes in Bethesda, Md. He also paid a lower state property transfer tax while buying the property in that state.
According to the report, Havenstein obtained those breaks by acknowledging that his $1 million condominium was his “principal residence” where he was living at least seven months of the year.
The New Hampshire Constitution requires candidates for governor, U.S. Senate, state Senate and the Executive Council to reside in the state seven years before the election.
Havenstein, who has a home in Alton, said he never relinquished New Hampshire as his domicile and noted that during the years he spent his work weeks in Maryland, he regularly voted in New Hampshire primary and general elections.
But, said state Democratic Party spokesman Julie McClain, “Despite Walt Havenstein’s selective memory, in order to receive the tax breaks he received, Maryland law required Havenstein to certify that his Maryland home was his principal residence, including for voting, paying taxes, driver’s license and car registration.
“That certification and Maryland law clearly make Havenstein ineligible to run for state office under New Hampshire’s Constitution. For him to state otherwise is to assert that he was committing tax fraud in Maryland, raising a whole other set of legal questions for Mr. Havenstein,” she said.
Havenstein also acknowledged that he registered a car in Maryland, while voting in New Hampshire.
“I think my eligibility is based on my domicile here, and it’s clear for the last 14 years it has been unbroken,” he told The Telegraph. He said he used the condo as “a place to sleep” while he worked in the area.
Havenstein left BAE Systems in July 2009 and became CEO of Science Applications International Corp., with offices in Virginia.
An employment agreement between SAIC and Havenstein, dated June 2009 and filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is addressed to “Mr. Walter P. Havenstein; Bethesda, MD 20814.”
Havenstein retired from SAIC in 2012 and sold the condo.
Havenstein’s adviser, Jamie Burnett of the Profile Strategies Group, told The Telegraph Havenstein’s eligibility to run for Governor of New Hampshire is not in question.
“It may be that because Maryland considered him a statutory resident, he was eligible for the homestead tax credit, but that does not change the fact that he was a resident, domiciled and voting in New Hampshire the entire time he commuted to work in Maryland,” Burnett told the newspaper.
“It’s clear under New Hampshire law and prior Ballot Law Commission rulings, Walt is eligible to run for governor in 2014.”