Rovall Washington, an Edgewood Democrat running for the District 34 state senate seat, filed an administrative complaint Thursday morning with the Harford County Board of Elections challenging the residency claims, voter registration, and candidacy of his Primary Election opponent, former state senator Art Helton.
At question is whether Helton lives on his Darlington farm, at the Joppa townhouse he bought a few years ago, or someplace else (like his office in Aberdeen, which he claimed was his residence in 2007). Helton has filed to run for the District 34 senate seat, which represents the Edgewood, Joppatowne, Aberdeen, Havre de Grace, and western Cecil County region. Darlington is represented by the District 35 seat.
Armed with photographic evidence, testimony from neighbors, and his own eyewitness accounts, Washington hinted that Helton’s alleged infraction may go beyond more than simply an incorrect address and might be considered “possible fraud.”
Washington’s complaint tells the full story from his perspective:
This complaint is in reference to the true residence of Harford County resident, Arthur Helton. I, Rovall Washington feel it is Mr. Arthur Helton’s hope to deceive the Maryland Board of Elections as to his true residency. This is my belief after several complaints and testimonies from local residents of District 34.
The following events are facts confirmed by Harford County Board of Elections:
On March 4th, 2009 the Harford County Board of Elections received a Voter Registration Form requesting Mr. Arthur Helton’s address be changed to 110 Ravenswood Court, Joppa, MD 21085.
On March 11th, 2010 The Harford County Board of Elections received a VR154 Form from the Motor vehicle Administration showing a change of address on his Maryland Drivers License to 110 Ravenswood Court, Joppa, MD 21085.
The complaint is that even though Mr. Helton changed his address to a property he has owned as a rental property, he himself has not moved into the property. In fact, he has a “tenant” living in the home. I have driven past the home located at 110 Ravenswood Court in Joppa, Maryland twice a day since May 14th. In the morning, I have sat in front of the residence consistently from 7:00AM to 9:00AM and again in the evening from 8PM to 9PM. During these time periods I have taken photos of the address and the cars that are routinely parked in the driveway. The only vehicles consistently there are a black late model Nissan Xterra with License Plate No. 56892M3 and an early 2000 model Chevrolet Silverado with License Plate No. 84N108, pewter in color.
After a conversation I had with the next neighbor of 110 Ravenswood Court in Joppa, Maryland, Mrs. Laura Miller on June 8th, 2010 at approximately 6:20PM, my allegations were confirmed. Mrs. Laura Miller is the owner of the only home adjacent to 110 Ravenswood Court. I introduced myself as Rovall Washington, a candidate for the Maryland Senate in the district. I then showed Mrs. Miller a sheet of paper with a photo of Mr. Arthur Helton on it and asked her, “Does this man live at 110 Ravenswood Court?” Mrs. Miller replied very clearly, “No. I’ve seen him before. He comes by every now and then. A younger guy lives there. He [Arthur Helton] must rent to him [the younger guy] because he comes by every now and then and leaves.” I asked Mrs. Laura Miller how long has she lived here and she said, “Me and my husband have been here for years.” Mrs. Miller also went on to say that the man who rents the property has a dog that won’t stop barking. She also said that the people before the current occupant only stayed a few months and was gone. Our conversation lasted approximately 10 ten minutes as she further explained her disgust with the current resident’s loud dog. She also said that the person who is staying at 110 Ravenswood drives the Silverado parked in the driveway that has the “Art Helton Senate” signs. She also voiced her concerns and wished not to be on T.V. for the information she gave. She also asked if Arthur Helton and me were Democrats or Republicans. I said Democrats. She then told me she was a Republican and could not vote for either of us in the election. I left my campaign card with her.
I then went next door and spoke to a gentleman to the right of the 110 Ravenswood Court address in Joppa, Maryland, to 108 Ravenswood Court, Joppa, Maryland. I identified myself to the man who answered as Rovall Washington, candidate for the Maryland State Senate. I asked this gentleman if he knew who lived next door to him. He answered, “Yes. I believe its Art Helton. His kids stay there. I think he might be your competition.” I answered him, “Really? I should go say Hi.” He then looked out to their driveway and said, “He’s not there now”. I asked him if he owned the property and he informed me that he was renting and moving very soon and was not registered to vote in Maryland.
On June 14th at 8:41 AM, I finally got a picture of the suspected resident of 110 Ravenswood Court. He and another gentleman exited the home from the side/rear of the town home and continued to look and inspect the pewter Chevy Silverado with License Plate No. 84N108. The guy previously described by Mrs. Laura Miller also checked the mailbox and close it and proceeded back inside the town house. All pictures have been included with this complaint, capturing the entire event.
On June 17th, 2010 I drove pass the home at 110 Ravenswood Court and this time the tenant came out side and waved directly at me. At the time I had my family in the vehicle. I then stopped and turned my truck around and pulled up to the address. I said, “Hello Jon. He replied, Hi Rovall.” He then walked over to my vehicle and I asked him to have Art Helton call me. He asked if Art had my number. I asked me[sic] to wait and he went into his personal vehicle, the Xterra with License Plate No. 56892M3 and returned with Art Helton’s campaign card. I drove off.
In the case of Barbara Kreamer vs. Harford Board of Elections, Arthur Helton was previously ordered to change his voter registration card back to his address at 3069 Harmony Church Road, Darlington, Maryland 21034 after trying to use his business address of 8 N. Parke St Aberdeen, MD 21001. In the order, dated November 17, 2007, Judith Armold, Designee of State Administrator, specifically states, “Any future change of Sen. Helton’s voter registration address should be supported by clear evidence of a permanent intent to reside elsewhere.” Based on the property tax record from this year (please see attachment), Mr. Helton has maintained the Darlington address as his primary residence. He has also placed another individual, not of any relation, into the home on Ravenswood Court in Joppa based on testimony from the only resident adjacent to the address in question. He was also identified as NOT residing there by two neighbors, both residing on opposite sides of 110 Ravenswood Court. The next door neighbor relatively resides at the same location as the Helton property on Ravenswood and she herself is saying through her life of being there that Arthur Helton does not live there. Mr. Helton has a history of frequently changing his voter registration card’s address. This particular time he has purposely set out to deceived the election board by staging another person to reside in the home and drive his vehicle daily throughout the neighborhood in an attempt to deceive so he could maintained his occupancy of 3069 Harmony Church Road..
I have attached the following:
Copies of pictures taken of the address
Copies of pictures showing the individual residing in the home located at 110 Ravenswood Court in Joppa, Maryland.
License plates numbers of vehicles regularly parked in the driveway
Contact information of Mrs. Laura Miller, owner of 112 Ravenswood Court, Joppa, MD 21085
2010 Property Tax Records for 3069 Harmony Church Road, Darlington, Maryland showing primary residence
2010 Property Tax Records for 110 Ravenswood Court, Joppa, Maryland
Copy of Kreamer vs. Board of Elections
Copy of the paper and photo shown to Mrs. Laura Miller depicting Mr. Arthur Helton
Please let me know of any questions or concerns you may have regarding this complaint.
Here are the photos Washington provided with his complaint, allegedly showing the actual tenant of Helton’s Joppa home:
After filing the administrative complaint with the Board of Elections on Thursday, Rovall went to Harford County Circuit Court to continue the process of challenging Helton’s candidacy.
Assisting Washington in his challenge of Helton’s residency is Harford County Councilman Dion Guthrie, a Democrat representing Edgewood and Joppatowne. Before he filed for re-election, Guthrie seriously considered running for the District 34 senate seat, against Helton. After he decided to run to keep his council seat, Guthrie advised Washington, who at the time was running as an unaffiliated candidate for the District 34A seat in the House of Delegates. Washington soon changed his party affiliation to Democrat and filed to run for the District 34 senate seat.
Guthrie, who lives near the property Helton is claiming as his residence in Joppa, has been outspoken regarding what he believes is Helton’s blatant disregard and manipulation of the state election law.
Guthrie submitted his own letter of complaint, accompanied by a copy of Helton’s property tax records from 2010, which appear to show Helton’s primary address as Darlington, and records on the Joppatowne property with the box checked indicating it is not Helton’s primary residence: