Attorney General To Issue Opinion on Breaux's LA Citizenship

April 8, 2007
Reported By: Lee Peck

He's considering a run to be Louisiana's next governor, but the question still remains can former U.S. Senator John Breaux legally make a bid on the democratic ticket.

"I was born in Louisiana, I went to grammar school in Louisiana, I went to high school in Louisiana, I went to college in Louisiana. I went to law school in Louisiana," said Breaux at a March 22nd press conference in Lake Charles.

Sure he's from Louisiana, but is Breaux a current citizen of the Bayou State? "That's what the real issue is. Our state constitution says in order to run for governor you must be a citizen of Louisiana for the five preceding years. That's what's going to be the constitutional issue that Attorney General Charles Foti will have to answer," said State Representative Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur.

Rep. Johns recently sent Foti a letter of questions to consider when making his opinion on Breaux's residency status. "Basic questions like, where does Sen. Breaux actually register to vote? Where does he pay his income tax? Where is his drivers license issued. Where is his homestead exemption," asked Johns.

Records show Breaux has homestead tax credit on his primary residence in Maryland and also on property in Washington D.C., where he has been working as a lobbyist since 2005. Breaux and his wife both revoked their voter registration in Louisiana and are currently registered in Maryland. Breaux also claims to still pay state income tax in Louisiana, as well as property taxes.

"Many of us including me, own property out of state. We pay taxes on those properties out of state, but that doesn't give me the right to run for office out of state," said Johns.

Johns says if Breaux is declared to be a citizen it will certainly raise questions to several underlying legal issues.

"The question has already been raised by a law professor in Louisiana: If Sen. Breaux is declared to be a citizen in Louisiana and can run, what happens to all of the out of state students who have to pay out of state tuition," said Johns. "Could they come in and get a drivers license, for example, or use a Louisiana address, and then be qualified to have in-state tuition?"

"This is not about Sen. Breaux personally, in any way shape or form. He's a fine gentleman. He's served our state very well in his years of service, but the senator made some conscience decisions a couple of years ago when he decided where his primary residence was going to be," said Johns.

Attorney general Foti is expected to make that opinion some time this week, but the thing to remember here is it's just an opinion -- it does not hold any weight of law. The real answer could be held in the courts if Breaux qualifies to run for Governor in September.