The Buzz

Roberts owns a home in Kansas, but he doesn’t live there

Updated: 2014-02-08T01:45:07Z

By STEVE KRASKE

The Kansas City Star

The New York Times was out with a story Friday that chronicled Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts’ attempt to re-assert himself in the state in the wake of an August primary challenge from tea partier Milton Wolf.

That story is here.

An earlier version of the story contended that the three-term senator, who also served in the House for 16 years, didn’t own a home in Kansas.

The Roberts’ team pushed back hard against that idea, undoubtedly because of the possible political consequences of a long-time senator not owning property in the state he represents.

The facts, from a Roberts’ spokeswoman, are these:

• Roberts does own a home in Dodge City. In fact, he’s owned it since 1992.

• He rents out that home and doesn’t live there.

• On Oct. 1, Roberts began paying $300-a-month rent to two longtime supporters — C. Duane and Phyllis Ross of Dodge City. Roberts stays in their home when he’s in town. The senator now lists this home as his official residence on his driver’s license and voter registration.

His staff didn’t know how many days Roberts stayed at the home in 2013.

The arrangement appears to satisfy residency requirements for Roberts to serve in the Senate.

The Roberts’ permanent residence is in the Washington area.

Wolf’s entry into the race on Oct. 10 may well have triggered Roberts’ address switch. Based on past campaigns, Roberts surely anticipated that his residency could become an issue.

On that point, spokeswoman Sarah Little said the switch of addresses was an attempt “to be completely transparent about where the senator stays when he’s in Dodge City.”

Did he make the address switch because he knew Wolf was getting into the race?

“I don’t know,” Little said.

All this begs a question: Why doesn’t Roberts simply own a home somewhere in Kansas that he can call his own, even if it remains vacant? At least that would any the questions about his residency.

It’s not that Roberts is lacking for money. His 2012 personal financial statement with the Senate said he had a minimum net worth of $850,000 and a maximum net worth of $2.5 million. The forms require senators only to list a range for the value of assets they own. That’s why we don’t have a precise number.

Little said she didn’t know the answer to that question, either.

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