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In 1987, Senator Rick Santorum bought this $87,800 two-bedroom, two-bath townhouse (111 Stephens Lane, Penn Hills, Pennsylvania). He claims to reside in the unfurnished home with his wife and six children.

House of Cards

Where does Rick Santorum really live?

Last week, the Philadelphia Jewish Voice received a startling press release from Rick Santorum's campaign manager. According to the release, "operatives" from the campaign of Santorum's rival, Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey, Jr., were peeking through the windows of the Santorum family home in Penn Hills, a suburb of Pittsburgh. The release goes on to say that "Casey's crew violated the Santorum family's home in search of political ammunition, instilling fear in Rick Santorum's wife, Karen, their six children, his in-laws and their neighbors to the point where the police had to be called in to protect the home."

Sounds spooky, doesn't it? You can just imagine the site of poor, defenseless Karen Santorum, huddling in fear with her children in their Penn Hills home, as crazed Democrats surround the property like zombies from a George Romero movie and press their faces against the windows.

There's just one problem with this nightmare scenario. The Santorum family doesn't live in that two-bedroom house in Penn Hills. No one lives there. There are no curtains on the windows and no furniture in the home. Santorum may hold title to the property, and he may claim it's his official residence, but he clearly doesn't live there. He lives with his wife Karen and children Elizabeth, Johnny, Daniel, Peter, Sarah Maria and Patrick a couple of hundred miles away in Leesburg, Virginia.

Last March, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sent letters to various candidates to gather information for their Voters Guide. They sent one to Santorum at that Penn Hills address. According to a May 26 editorial in the Post-Gazette, the letter came back to the paper " with a sticker from the U.S. Postal Service checked as "Not Deliverable As Addressed -- Unable To Forward."


The editorial continues with the assertion that the returned letter is really "all you need to know about the nasty dispute between the Republican Sen. Santorum and his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr., in the November election. The whole thing is rooted in one inconvenient fact for Sen. Santorum: He doesn't live here anymore.

"This is not to say that he doesn't visit Penn Hills from time to time. But while he may meet the legal requirements for residency, his home is in Virginia with his wife and children. This is well-known and it has been for quite a while. Indeed, it was at the heart of the objection by some Penn Hills residents to the local school district paying for the senator's children to be enrolled in a cyber charter school." 

Under intense legal and political scrutiny, the Junior Senator was forced to return $104,767 to the school district.. 
Attack on Casey released May 19 by the Santorum campaign. 
Continuing to object that Santorum continues to  live in Virginia, two local democrats Ed and Erin Vecchio, residents of Penn Hills, challenged the right of Rick and Karen Santorum to vote at his precinct in the recent Republican primary on the grounds that the Santorums were not actually residing in Vecchio's precinct. Although Santorum owns a modest two-bedroom house and pays property taxes, Vecchio observed (since the house had no drapes) that the home is completely unfurnished suggesting that Rick and Karen Santorum and their six children:do not actually reside in their two-bedroom house in Penn Hills. 

If so, this calls into question not only Rick and Karen's Pennsylvania voter registration, but also the qualifications of Rick Santorum to serve as Pennsylvania's Junior Senator. This is especially worth noting when Santorum won his seat in 1994 from Sen. Harris Wofford in part by calling into question Wofford Pennsylvania residence. 

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "a radio ad for Sen. Santorum flagrantly distorts that report, suggesting that 'operatives' for the Casey campaign had trespassed on the Santorum property. (It also sneeringly calls Mr. Casey "Bobby" -- as if the Democrat wore short pants.)

"First, the couple criticizing Sen. Santorum have denied a connection to the Casey campaign, an assertion confirmed by Mr. Casey. (Perhaps Sen. Santorum thinks that just being a critical Democrat makes people "operatives.")

"Second, no one has admitted to trespassing on the Santorum property or peering through windows. The KDKA report merely quoted Mr. Vecchio as saying the house was vacant, with no curtains or furniture. But you wouldn't have to be a trespasser to find that out; you could ask neighbors -- or the local mail carrier. After all, the senator's absence is not in serious dispute because he doesn't live here anymore.

"Mr. Casey described Sen. Santorum's claims as 'weird' and 'bizarre.' Actually, they are beyond weird and raise serious questions about the senator's ethics that go beyond the residency question. In a letter to Mr. Casey, he speaks of his 'outrage' regarding the actions of the Casey campaign 'which have put our six young children at a serious safety risk.'

"Though that suggestion is far-fetched to the point of absurdity, it would be a potential source of fear only if the senator actually lived in Penn Hills, but -- let us repeat one last time -- the Santorum family is at no risk because he doesn't live here anymore and the family is in Virginia most of the time. So what we have is the senator making untrue and outrageous comments while seeking to hide behind his wife and kids in order to get around an inconvenient fact."

Spooky indeed.