Sworn statement could decide if Lindsey Williams takes seat as state senator
The fate of Lindsey Williams’ state Senate seat could rest upon a sworn affidavit that she spent the night of Nov. 6, 2014, with friends in Shaler, according to a Senate Republican official.
Republicans have questioned whether Williams, 35, of West View, has lived in the 38th Senatorial District, which includes a large portion of northern Allegheny County, for a required four years.
To meet that requirement, she’s had to have lived in the district since at least Nov. 6, 2014.
Williams, who edged out GOP candidate Jeremy Shaffer in the Nov. 6 general election, said she meets the residency requirement and has submitted nearly 100 pages of documents to prove it. She’s scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 1.
Republicans aren’t convinced, and they’re reviewing the paperwork with outside attorneys to determine whether spending the night with friends meets the legal definition of establishing domicile, according to Drew Crompton, chief counsel for Senate Republicans.
“Nov. 6, 2014, really is the drop-dead date,” Crompton said. “Information that she’s provided said she came in the evening of Nov. 6, the last possible day, and stayed with friends. Is that domicile? Does that qualify? That’s the question.”
He noted, among other things, that Williams voted in Maryland in November 2014 and didn’t sign a lease for her apartment until after Nov. 6, 2014.
Williams said she moved to the district and was looking for a place to live.
“I lived with my friends until I found an apartment,” she said. “I believe I meet all the requirements.”
Republicans have yet to decide the issue, and it would take a majority vote of the Senate to keep her from being seated. Crompton said leaders hope to reach a consensus before Jan. 1.
“Four years is four years. That’s what the (state) Constitution says,” he said. “If the membership determines that she meets the Constitution then, by god, she should be sworn in. If she doesn’t, then she shouldn’t.”
Meanwhile, Williams has taken outgoing Sen. Randy Vulakovich’s old office in Shaler and has been meeting with constituents. On Wednesday, she and state Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Lincoln-Lemington, hosted a community meeting to help residents with winter heating problems.
She’s also listed as co-sponsor of Democratic bills that would protect provisions of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
“It is stressful, but I’m doing my best,” Williams said. “The voters elected me, and I’m just trying to focus on doing the job they wanted me to do.”
Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, the Senate minority leader, said Democrats believe Williams meets the residency criteria and would oppose any efforts to stop her from being seated despite a GOP Senate majority.
“I’ve been engaged in conversations with Republican leadership, making the case that Lindsey meets the requirements, and that’s where we’re at,” he said. “The people who voted for her understood the issues and voted her in to serve as their senator. I would argue that she’s already taken office. She’s working. The only thing that’s not occurred yet is she’s not been sworn in, but she’s doing everything that’s required of a Pennsylvania senator.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.