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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Havenstein declares for governor; asks ballot commission to resolve residency question

CONCORD – Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein got the jump on his critics Wednesday by asking the Ballot Law Commission to affirm that he meets the residency requirements to run for the corner office.

State Democratic leaders have strongly suggested that once Havenstein became an official candidate, they would insist that his recently living in Bethesda, Md., for more than two years disqualifies him. ...

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CONCORD – Republican candidate for governor Walt Havenstein got the jump on his critics Wednesday by asking the Ballot Law Commission to affirm that he meets the residency requirements to run for the corner office.

State Democratic leaders have strongly suggested that once Havenstein became an official candidate, they would insist that his recently living in Bethesda, Md., for more than two years disqualifies him.

The Telegraph first reported in March that Havenstein obtained two Maryland tax breaks worth at least $5,400 from 2008-11, both of which required him to declare that he was a full-time resident there.

Havenstein insists that he maintained his domicile in Alton throughout that time and has voted only in New Hampshire since moving here 15 years ago.

“I could wait for my opponents to file their frivolous claims, but I’m so certain of the result that I want the ruling as quickly as possible,” Havenstein said.

“This has been an attempt by Democrats to distract from the issues that matter to Granite Staters: jobs, the economy and Maggie Hassan’s record of financial mismanagement.”

A Democratic Party spokesman said Havenstein either is not an eligible candidate or he committed tax fraud in Maryland.

“We’re sure that New Hampshire citizens will want the opportunity to raise a number of key issues that aren’t likely to be included in Walt’s own self-challenge of his residency with the Ballot Law Commission,” said communications director Julie McClain.

“The facts of Walt’s case are clear and haven’t changed: 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, which clearly makes him ineligible to run for state office under New Hampshire’s Constitution. The only alternative is that Havenstein asserts that he committed tax fraud in Maryland, which raises a whole other set of legal questions for him to answer.”

The state Constitution requires candidates to live in New Hampshire the seven years before becoming a candidate.

In his filing, Havenstein notes that he first bought a $1 million condominium in Maryland when he became chairman and CEO of BAE Systems Inc., the parent company of BAE Systems of Nashua.

The firm is headquartered in Maryland, and Havenstein said he used it as a temporary residence until selling it in 2012, after he retired from Science Applications International Corp.

To buttress his residency claim, Havenstein produced copies of his federal income and state interest and dividends returns for the year while he said he lived “temporarily” in Maryland.

The documents blacked out all financial information regarding how much Havenstein earned and paid in taxes during those years.

Havenstein also said he maintained only a New Hampshire bank account, kept his local physicians, and continued to do community and philanthropic work in the state.

“While Mr. Havenstein was temporarily residing in Maryland for work, he never manifested an intention to change or abandon his New Hampshire domicile and, in fact, returned home to his wife in Alton, N.H. most weekends, holidays and any other times he could do so,” wrote his lawyer, David Vicinanzo.

Havenstein said while campaigning across the state, voters have told him about the rising costs of health care, energy and that the economic recovery is stalled here.

“I know I can help. I know we can do better,” Havenstein said.

Democratic Party officials contend that while heading up SAIC, Havenstein allowed a federal fraud probe that resulted in the firm paying $600 million in fines.

Havenstein counters that within months of taking over that job, he uncovered the fraud, fired the responsible parties and left the firm on good financial footing.

“We uncovered a real mess. Real leaders deal with real messes; they don’t push them off to the next CEO to deal with,” Havenstein said.

“I don’t feel responsible, but I do feel accountable.”

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).