Tax records appear to show Republican House candidate David Cole lives outside the district where he is seeking office.
ALABAMA, USA – David Cole, a military veteran and physician running for the House District 10 seat in Madison County, does not live within District 10 boundaries, tax records and other documents reviewed by Alabama Political Reporter appear to show that. Additionally, questions have been raised about the validity of the home address Cole provided to election officials when he ran for office.
Tax records and other standard filings show Cole, his wife and three children live at an address on Cedar Springs Place in Madison. According to the new House district maps released in 2020, that would make Cole a District 4 resident.
However, Cole’s voter registration address — and the address he used when he ran for office — is a home on Conservancy Drive. Located about two miles away and just outside the boundaries of District 10, Cole says he moved into the Conservancy Drive home on Nov. 6, 2021, two days before the filing deadline. This home is owned by Himbert Sinopoli, according to tax records and other information, and his wife and husband have lived in the home for the past four years.
When asked about the irregularities, Cole’s campaign manager, David Driscoll, said he was confident Cole met the requirements for permanent residency.
“David Cole is a legitimate and legal candidate under Alabama law,” Cole’s campaign said in a statement late Wednesday. “We look forward to the voters deciding in the election.”
Cole declined an interview request, leaving a number of questions unanswered.
Driscoll provided a timeline of Cole’s moves and also provided APR with two leases that Cole said complied with legal requirements.
The trouble appears to have started when new district lines were drawn in 2020 for a rapidly growing area of Madison County. Ward 10 shifted slightly north, and Coles’ Cedar Place home district was placed in Ward 4 for the first time.
Driscoll said Cole was unaware at the time that the shift had changed his constituency. Instead, he said, the Coles wanted to downsize their home and move into an apartment. But that process was slow, Driscoll said, and Cole decided to simply lease from Sinopolis instead.
The campaign provided APR with a lease signed by Cole and Himbert Sinopoli, showing that Cole reportedly moved into the home on Conservancy Drive on Nov. 6, 2021. Alabama law requires candidates to live in the district for which they are seeking office for at least a year before elections. Cole beat the lease deadline by just two days.
Of course, this arrangement raises more questions because Sinopolis also resides in the house on Conservancy Drive and has claimed it as their homestead for tax purposes each of the last four years, including 2022.
That said, if we were to take the situation at face value, Cole, a successful doctor in the Huntsville area, would be moving his family of five into a 3,300 square foot home with another family. And they did it while their second home — a 3,000-square-foot house built in 2002 — remained unoccupied.
Another complication: An APR reporter has seen Cole and his family go in and out of the Cedar Springs Place home three times in the past two weeks, and the home appears to be occupied.
When asked about the discrepancies, Driscoll said the Coles are still in the process of preparing the Cedar Place home for sale and still make frequent visits to the home. APR also provided the lease for the apartment, which Cole and his wife signed in September.
“David Cole is a good man who served his country and I’m sure he lives in the district,” Driscoll said. “He is clearly registered to vote in Ward 10.
Whether Cole actually resides in the county is a question that only Madison County Circuit Court can answer at this time, according to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill. Because Alabama ballots for the upcoming midterm elections have long since been printed — and thousands of absentee ballots have already been returned — there is no mechanism to remove Cole — should he choose to live outside the district — from the ballot.
Instead, Merrill said it would be necessary to file a lawsuit in circuit court. If Cole wins the general election — running against Democratic candidate Marilyn Lands — and a court rules that Cole is not a legal candidate because of residency issues, Cole would be sworn into office and then recalled, Merrill said. A special election would then be called to fill the seat.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on alreporter.com
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