It’s no secret that Steve Bannon lives a rather transient life, at least when it comes to establishing a permanent, legal residence. But a report that came out shortly after he was named the chief executive of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign shoved they story into the national spotlight.
It was The Guardian who first reported on November 13, 2016, that Bannon was registered to vote at Florida home. The kicker? It was vacant. The house’s owner, Luis Guevara, verified that the house had been emptied and was scheduled for demolition as part of a few construction project. The house had been rented by Bannon for his ex-wife, Diane Clohesy, who has her own problems with voter registration and drug smuggling.
According to The Guardian:
Under Florida law, voters must be legal residents of the state and of the county where they register to vote. Guidelines from the Florida department of state say that Florida courts and state authorities have defined legal residency as the place “where a person mentally intends to make his or her permanent residence”.
Wilfully submitting false information on a Florida voter registration – or helping someone to do so – is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Election officials in Miami-Dade make clear to prospective voters that they are required to actually live in the county and to use their home address in election paperwork. “You must reside in Miami-Dade County,” their website states. It adds: “When you register to vote, an actual residence address is required by law.” A county spokeswoman did not respond to questions relating to Bannon’s situation.
The Guardian also points out that records clearly show Bannon was registered to vote in Orange County, CA until 2014, when he began registering to vote in Miami, this despite numerous accounts from neighbors that Bannon was never on the property where he was registered to vote.
The Washington Post picked up on the story, and dug much deeper. They speculate that by signing an oath declaring he was truthfully a resident of Florida, Bannon was attempting to avoid the 12% income tax rate in California [Florida does not have an income tax]. While they have yet to be able to prove that, they weigh in further:
The Post found that Bannon left a negligible footprint in Florida. He did not get a Florida driver’s license or register a car in the state. He never voted in Florida, and neighbors near two homes he leased in Miami said they never saw him. His rent and utility bills were sent to his business manager in California.
Florida state prosecutors have now opened an investigation into Bannon, questioning his claim to be lawfully registered to vote in Florida from 2014-2016. In addition to subpoenaing a number of records, including leases and voting records, they have interviewed a number of neighbors, landscape workers, and landlords in their search for the truth.
Both Bannon and his ex-wife have declined repeated requests for comment from both The Guardian and The Washington Post.