Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) repeatedly listed a Washington, D.C. house owned by his executive assistant as his address on a series of official documents in recent years, including several of his statements of candidacy to the Federal Election Commission.
Cochran owns a house he has described in documents as a “cabin” in Oxford, Mississippi, which his campaign said is his primary residence. But his opponent, state senator Chris McDaniel, said the documents listing a D.C. address illustrate the six-term incumbent has grown apart from the state he represents in Congress.
Additionally, documents signed by Cochran in 2006 and 2010 indicate the cabin is under a “second home rider,” a legal designation that it is his second home. Cochran owns only the Oxford cabin, and the president of the bank that issued the mortgage, which shares connections to Cochran’s family, said in an April 30 letter the designation was an error on the part of the bank.
Beginning in 2002, Cochran listed his address on official forms as being in Washington, D.C.
In an amended statement of candidacy to the FEC in 2002, Cochran listed an Alexandria house he sold in 2003 as his address.
In two amended filings of his statement of candidacy in 2008, Cochran listed his address as a basement apartment in the stately, Captiol Hill rowhouse his executive assistant, Kay Webber, owns and lives in.
Cochran’s campaign said he pays Webber, pictured above at with Cochran at a black-tie dinner at the Kennedy Center in 2010, rent at market rates to live in the apartment, which has its own separate entrance.
In other documents, like a “certificate of trust” filed in Mississippi in 2008, Cochran listed the house itself as his address.
In his most recent statement of candidacy, filed in May, 2013, Cochran listed the apartment as his address. His campaign subsequently amended the filing to list the cabin as his address April 28, 2014.
Jordan Russell, a spokesman for Cochran, said Cochran has filed a “homestead exemption,” a property tax deduction that can only be applied to one property per person, on the Oxford cabin, is registered to vote in Oxford, and spent “over 100 days” in Mississippi in 2013.
“Anyone who tries to tell you that Thad Cochran doesn’t live in Mississippi doesn’t know what they’re talking about. It’s just not true. This is clearly an attempt by Chris McDaniel’s desperate, flailing campaign to make an issue of something that’s just not an issue,” Russell said.
Cochran told Politico in 2012 he visits Mississippi about 18 times a year, less often than many lawmakers. And his persistent pattern of listing his address in Washington, D.C. at a house only a four-minute walk from the Capitol is likely to create a political headache for him in Mississippi. Starting with former-Sen. Dick Lugar in 2012, who did not own a home in the state of Indiana which he represented, residency questions have dogged a series of incumbent senators.
“Senator Cochran is a perfect example of what’s wrong with D.C.– he has been there for nearly 42 years and doesn’t spend much time in the state he’s supposed to represent,” said Noel Fritsch, McDaniel’s spokesman.
“Sen. Cochran is out-of-touch with the people of Mississippi, and his four decades of voting for more spending, his own pay raises, tax hikes, taxpayer funded abortion, and even to fund Obamacare, demonstrate that Thad Cochran puts D.C. ahead of Mississippians,” Fritsch added.
In 2003, Cochran sold a condo in Oxford and listed his address as “U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510.” Two days later, he purchased land in Oxford and listed the Capitol Hill rowhouse as his address.
In 2005, Cochran sold easement rights for a property, listing the Capitol Hill rowhouse as his address. That same year, he signed a deed of trust with the Capitol Hill rowhouse as his address.
In 2006, Cochran signed another deed of trust that listed his address as the Capitol Hill home and stated official parties should send his tax notices there.
In 2008, Cochran listed the Capitol Hill rowhouse as his address on a certificate of trust filed with the Chancery Court Clerk of Tippah County, MS.
In 2010, Cochran signed another deed of trust that listed Oxford cabin as his address.
The 2006 and 2010 deeds of trust designate the Oxford cabin as a second home. On each, a box for “second home rider” box is checked on pages initialed by Cochran.
A second home rider is a designation in a mortgage application that the property will be used as a second home – as opposed to as a primary residence or an “investment property” – and sometimes confers a lower rate.
Cochran did not own another house at the time. A loan application provided by Cochran’s campaign listed his “present address” as the apartment to the Capitol Hill rowhouse and said he had lived there for three and a half years. The “primary residence” box on the application was checked, indicating the cabin he was applying for a mortgage for would be his primary residence.
In an April 30, 2014 letter provided by Cochran’s campaign, James R. Collins, the president and CEO of BNA Bank in Albany, Mississippi, said the “second home rider” designation was introduced into paperwork by a third party company that processed the deeds of trust.
“All of BNA Bank’s records including loan application, affidavit of occupancy, lock confirmation, and underwriting approval indicate that Mr. Cochran applied for a mortgage loan to refinance his primary residence located in Oxford, Mississippi,” Collins said in the letter.
Collins also said that representatives of Cimarron Mortgage Company, which processed the deeds of trust, introduced the secondary residence designation “either by mistake” or “to meet Fannie Mae guidelines which generally say that for a residence to be considered a primary residence in the mortgage loan terminology, the owner must be able to commute to and from work.”
Cochran’s late father-in-law, Hugh N. Clayton, was a “director” at BNA Bank, according to Cochran’s eulogy of Clayton on the Senate floor in 1994.