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HRP's Ernst Target Of Probe

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Ann Arbor police have launched an investigation into allegations that Carol Ernst, Human Rights Party candidate for mayor, did not live inside the city during her campaign. , , Acting on information provided by former Republican City Councilman John D. McCormick, police are investigating if Ernst violated either city or state election laws, especially regarding possible voter fraud. Besides the possibility of a criminal violation, Republicans are questioning if Ernst's candidacy was valid by the alleged nonresidency, and what effect this might have on the preferential election of last week. Specifically, they are asking if the second choice votes of Ernst supporters should be counted. It was these votes that gave Democrat Albert H. Wheeler an apparent victory over GOP Mayor James E. Stephenson. McCormick presented the results of his personal investigation to Pólice Chief Walter Krasny and Washtenaw County Prosecutor William F. Delhey Friday afternoon. The material turned over to investigators included a lease si'gned by Ernst last August for a house at 1110 S. Maple Rd., which is a 'Scio Township island. The lease, also signed by Sue Schurman, was dated to runsfrom last September through next August. McCormick also gave pólice an affidavit signed by Mrs. Anna Chandler, 1132 S. Maple, saying Ernst has been in continual residence at the 1110 S. Maple addrpss since last f all. McCormick said Mrs. Chandler affirmed in the sworn affidavit that Ernst leaves from that address each morning. Also included in the material was a copy of a rent check dated Jan. 1, 1975, for the 1110 S. Maple home and signed by Ernst. At the top of the check were the names of both Ernst and Schurman, and below the names the 1110 S. Maple address. I MCormick who officially left office after four years last Tuesday, declined to sign a complaint against Ernst. But he said. "I feel I have a duty to turn this material over to the authorities to do whatever they want." City records show that last Dec. 18 Ernst registered to vote, giving her address as 533 N. Main St. Her nominating petitions that placed her on the HRP ticket also listed the 533 N. Main address, as does her campaign spending report filed with the city clerk. But legal authorities indicated the most serious charge, if it were proved she did not live in the city, would be the fact she voted in the First Ward precinct that includes 533 N. Main. Ernst acknowledged to The News that she signed the lease for the S. Maple home, but denied that that is her residence. For approximately a year and a half her official residence has been at 533 N. Main, she said. But she also acknowledge that she frequently visits and sometimes says overnight at the S. Maple home. She also said she has household duties at that home and helps pay part of the rent, just as she said she pays part of the rent at 533 N. Main site. "LegaUy my residence is 533 N. Main. I do all sorts of things we usually associate with residence, staying there, sleeping there and receiving mail there," she said. j She said her life for the past two years has "been a mess," including the breakup of her marriage and a move from her former home in Adrián to Ann Arbor. That move was made over a lengthy time span, she said, during which she was living for periods both in Adrián and at the N. Main address. Ernst said she can produce receipts for rent she paid on the 533 N. Main, and added that she mteht also "go knocking on doors" 'in that neighborhood to get neighbors to affirm she lived there. McCormick said he checked three resi-l dents on N. Main and showed them a 1 ture of Ernst, but none recognized her. Ernst said that might be possible because the 533 N. Main área is not really a "community" in the sensè that neighbors don't really know each other. Prosecutor Deíhey said he will nat bel come involved in the issue until policel present him with the results of the investigation. But he indicated the matter of legal residency is "completely confused"! under Michigan law. I He used himself as an example. He I said he owns homes in Ann Arbor and Saline, and has a cottage up north. Legally he is a resident at all three, but the legal question is where he is "domiciled," he said. The City Charter requires city elected officials tö live in the city, but it also has some vague áreas, said City Attorney Edwin L. Pear. The charter is unclear about whether á person. must live in the city to run for office, or if he or she must live, here to take office if elected . The charter requires persons to live in Ann Arbor for a year before taking office, but the one-year restriction was struck down in federal court several years ago. The question of Ernst's legal residence was included in a brief filed Friday on behalf of Stephenson's challenge of the preferential election last week. McCormick, who has been assisting in the legal work for Stephenson's case, did I not maintain the second choice votes of Ernst's supporters should be thrown out, but the legality of those votes is "arguable", he said. Peter DeLoof, an attorney for Wheeler, I said he doubted seriously if the residency question could affect the votes cast. As an example, he noted, that Mickey Mouse received a few first preference votes, but since Mickey Mouse finished out of the running in the mayoral contest, the second choice ballot of his supporters were counted instead,