Lawyers debated water bills, pay stubs and Apple Maps location data Wednesday as they argued over whether Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver lives at the address he claims on his voter registration form.
Whitver, a Republican, faces a challenge from Grimes resident Ann Gale, who alleges Whitver still lives in Ankeny and not at the Grimes condominium in his Senate district that he claimed when registering to vote in August.
Whitver was reelected to Iowa Senate District 23 on Nov. 8. The district includes Grimes and parts of rural Polk and Dallas counties. He announced late last year after Iowa's redistricting process concluded that he would move into the district from his home in Ankeny.
Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald, a Democrat, heard evidence from both sides at a hearing Wednesday at the Polk County Election Office. Fitzgerald will issue a written decision either rejecting the challenge or canceling Whitver's voter registration.
That decision that can be appealed to an Iowa district court judge, whose decision would be final.
"Sen. Whitver falsely claimed that he lives in Grimes. He fraudulently completed his voter registration," Gale said at the hearing. "I believe that the citizens of Iowa Senate District 23 deserve to be represented by someone who actually lives in the district."
Whitver did not appear in person at the hearing, but he submitted a sworn affidavit saying he began preparing to move to Grimes in August and moved to his condo there Sept. 4.
In addition to his affidavit, Whitver submitted several dozen screenshots of his Apple Maps location that showed he was at the Grimes condo during early morning and late night hours between Sept. 14 and Nov. 30. He also shared photos of the furnished condo taken in September and October, as well as a photo of a package that was delivered to the Grimes address.
Whitver also shared payroll information from the state of Iowa listing the Grimes address for pay stubs beginning Sept. 2, and an email to the secretary of state's office on Sept. 2 asking them to update his address on their list of candidates running for office.
At the hearing, Emma Weinert, a Democratic volunteer, said she knocked on the door of Whitver's home in Ankeny on Oct. 9 and spoke to Whitver's wife.
"I asked if she and her family still live at this address, and she said 'yes, we do,'" Weinert said.
Charlie Smithson, a lawyer for Whitver, said he doesn't dispute that Whitver's wife and three children still live in Ankeny.
"That’s an issue for Jack Whitver and his spouse," Smithson said at the hearing. "That is not an issue for the government to step in and say why did you move and your wife and kids stayed somewhere else?"
The Iowa Constitution requires state senators and representatives to live in their districts for at least 60 days before the election. Polk County Assessor records show Whitver owns a home in Ankeny as well as the Grimes condo.
Whitver faced a challenge to his residency in March, but it was dismissed because Whitver was not required to be living in the new district at that time. Whitver subsequently registered to vote at the Grimes address.
Shayla McCormally, a lawyer for Gale, said Wednesday that Whitver's voting records show he has voted in every election since 2004 — but did not vote in this year's primary or general elections.
Lawyers at the hearing also disagreed about the water usage at the Grimes residence. That issue first arose in October after a KCRG-TV news report said utility bills at the condo showed no water was used.
McCormally said Whitver's water bills at the Grimes condo show "not one drop of water was used" at the residence between February, when the previous tenant moved out, and mid-September.
"That is the very first time a drop of water was used," she said. "No showers. No drinks. No laundry."
The bills Whitver submitted to the auditor with his affidavit show he used 1,000 gallons of water in the monthly billing period ending Oct. 10 and 3,000 gallons in the following billing period. He also submitted gas, sewer and electricity bills showing usage in September, October and November.
"Frankly, how many showers a person takes or how much water you use is a little silly for this thing but … there is there is usage in September, October and November," Smithson said.
Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Polk County hears challenge to Iowa Senate leader's voter registration