Bethesda Beat caught local gadfly and perennial Republican candidate Robin Ficker in a shocking admission the other day:
[In 2009], Ficker lost to council member Nancy Navarro, 7,364 to 4,263, in a special election for the council’s District 4 seat. Ficker said Friday he used his parents’ Silver Spring address to run in that race.
However, the Montgomery County Charter says that you’re supposed to reside in the Council District in which you run:
Each of the five other members of the Council shall, at the time of Nomination and election and throughout the member’s term of office, reside in a different Council district, and shall be nominated and elected by the qualified voters of that district. Any change in the boundaries of a Council district after a member is elected shall not render the member ineligible to complete the term for which the member was elected.
You’re supposed to use your own address, not that of your parents, when you run for office, so did Ficker violate the law? Notice that Ficker did not say that he moved to his parents’ house to establish residency but that “he used his parents’ address.”
According to the Montgomery County property tax database, Ficker has paid property tax on his home in Boyds since at least 1999. As Adam Pagnucco covered at the time, Ficker was still claiming the homestead exemption on his principal residence–his home in Boyds.
How did Ficker establish residency in Council District 4? Was his parents’ home his domicile? Did he live with his parents or with his wife in their home? Did Ficker file taxes at his own home or that of his parents? Did he obtain a new driver’s license with his parents’ address? Did he switch his voter registration, and if so, was that also done legally?
Put bluntly, did Robin Ficker establish legal residency in Council District 4? In light of the obvious evidence and Ficker’s public admission, does the State’s Attorney intend to investigate violations of either tax or election law?
Additionally, do Ficker’s actions violate the Maryland Code of Legal Ethics? The Code states:
A lawyer’s conduct should conform to the requirements of the law, both in professional service to clients and in the lawyer’s business and personal affairs. . . .
A lawyer shall not make a statement that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office. . . .
Robin Ficker is an attorney and would no doubt claim that he complied with the law. Some might hesitate to take his word for it, as “Ficker has been a frequent flyer in disciplinary matters” related to ethical requirements for the practice of law:
Private reprimand (1998).
Private reprimand (2002).
ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND v. Robin K.A. FICKER, 399 Md. 445, 924 A.2d 1105 (2007). Indefinite law license suspension.
Although Ficker’s law license was reinstated after a year in the last case, the dissent in the opinion stated:
If disbarment is not warranted in this case for these types of issues, with a respondent with this history, it will never be warranted. If it is never going to be warranted in these types of cases, we should modify the rules to say so. I would disbar.