I would like to respond to the recently published “Expanded Written Decision of Madison County Hearing Board on Petition to Vacate the Madison County Board of Supervisor Seat of Aaron Price.”
• Why were the “Rules and Procedures” for the public hearing set up so that no petitioner representative was allowed to cross-exam Aaron Price?
• No hearing board member asked him a single question following his presentation, so his various statements made went unquestioned and unchallenged by anyone.
• At the hearing, he claimed he sold all his property in Iowa and bought two homes in Utah last year “as investments” but were not reflective of his resident status. That is not how his deed to one of his Utah homes reads. His recorded deed, dated Oct. 2, 2019, states that the new homeowners are Aaron B. Price and Lanae Price “of 439 S. 100 E., Washington, UT 84780.” That evidence was ignored by the hearing board in rendering its decision.
• Aaron and Lanae Price own a second home in Utah, purchased on Feb. 26, 2019. The financing document signed by Aaron Price and Lanae Price states: “Borrower [Aaron and Lanae Price] shall only use the property as borrower’s second home.” That evidence, also, went unquestioned and ignored in the Board’s deliberation and later decision made.
• Aaron Price’s claim that the purchase of both homes was an “investment,” is entirely inconsistent with what the documents say, one of which includes his signature. He was not questioned regarding any of that by the hearing board.
• He claimed at the Feb. 13, 2020, hearing that his wife, Lanae, moved to Utah “because her mother has dementia and is dying.”
At a public hearing in Earlham some two months earlier, he claimed he had “dragged his wife around the U.S. for a number of years. She wanted to move to St. George, Utah, and, in fact, was moving to St. George.”
Those statements by Aaron Price are all publicly available on YouTube. That was pointed out at the hearing. However, in the approximate five to seven minutes of their deliberations that followed the presentation of evidence the hearing board failed to even listen to or consider that video evidence.
His family’s move to Utah is consistent with the October 2019 deed to his new home, which refers to Aaron and Lanae Price therein, as “of Washington, Utah.”
If the two Utah homes are truly “investments,” only, as Aaron Price claims, why did he sell all of his Iowa real estate and now be recognized for land title purposes as residing in Utah? Especially if he plans to continue living in Iowa. Normally people who are residents of Iowa don’t sell their family home, become renters in our state, and then buy two homes in another state (Utah) where their deed and financing agreements identify them as Utah residents.
• The Iowa Secretary of State’s website indicates that a “voter can only declare one residence for voter registration purposes.” Assuming for discussion, only, that Aaron Price claims Iowa and Utah residency, which is it? Why was he not pressed about that inconsistency before the Board’s decision was made?
• Aaron Price offered that his voter registration card, driver license, automobile plates, 2018 tax documents, and the like identify him as an Iowa resident. First of all, the 2018 tax documents are wholly irrelevant to a 2020 decision. What is his resident status now? Not what was it in 2018. Next, as everyone knows, once you obtain those items, as Aaron Price did well before establishing Utah as his residence according to land title documents in that state, no one later questions their authenticity enabling a person to vote, renew a driver’s license or get new license plates, as those renewals are requested. Additionally, a voter registration card is not subject to renewal. So, his old Iowa license, title, and voter registration continue on, unaffected, unless they’re challenged. That does not mean that his residency has not changed. It simply means that his old evidence may, or may not, accurately reflect his current residency status. Deeper investigation of his circumstances is required to make that determination. That more extensive review was never undertaken by the Board.
• Aaron Price repeatedly suggested that “if a homeless person can be entitled to vote,” so should he be able to qualify in Iowa. But, that misses the point. He has two homes – in Utah. He is not homeless and so falls within another voter qualification category. To register to vote in Iowa, one must be an Iowa resident. Section 48A.5(2)(b), (Code of Iowa 2019). “A person’s residence, for voting purposes only, is the place which the person declares as the person’s home.” (Id.) A homeless person’s residency requirement is satisfied under §48A.5A(7), Code of Iowa (2019). Presumably Aaron Price is not now claiming he is homeless. Especially where he owns two homes in Utah.
• Aaron Price’s real estate title documents in Utah make clear, that his first and second homes are in Utah. There is no equivalent evidence to support his Iowa residency.
• Finally, Aaron Price was absent from, participated by phone, or left the meeting early on 11 out of 34 total supervisor meetings from April 23, 2019, through year-end 2019 (8 months) (33% of that time). He offered multiple reasons for his absences and failure to personally attend those meetings, yet those explanations were not independently confirmed with supporting and probative evidence. Nor did the Hearing Board take the time to independently confirm those unsupported statements by Aaron Price.
He countered in his unchallenged testimony by first claiming: “The comment about being absent often from personally attending board meetings is irrelevant.” He then claims that since certain meetings were anticipated to be short in duration, his absence was acceptable, in his view.
His reasons for his absences and/or failure to participate in person were not challenged by the hearing board. Presumably, the voters who elected him to office didn’t do so with the understanding that Aaron Price could be personally absent so often, nor that he could unilaterally decide which meetings to attend or not. Especially while serving as the board chair last year, and while his two supervisor colleagues participated personally in all meetings in the case of Supervisor Fitch and only participated once by phone in the case of Supervisor Clifton, who otherwise was personally present for all meetings.
It is unfortunate that so little time was given to the foregoing evidence before the Board’s decision was made. It appeared that the apparent rush to judgment made impossible the opportunity to fully understand and appreciate the true and correct residence status of Aaron Price.
Yours very truly,
—Fred L. Dorr, Attorney for Petitioners; WASKER, DORR, WIMMER & MARCOUILLER, P.C.