By Lou Varricchio
VICTORY, Vt. — A Connecticut family listed among the defendants in an ongoing voter fraud lawsuit has admitted voting in Vermont elections, according to public court documents. Family members said they got approval to do so from the Vermont Secretary of State’s office.
Interrogatories by the town of Victory posed to four members of the Flanigan family — parents Robert and Toni Flanigan, and adult sons Brendan and Robert Flanigan III — indicate that the defendants have never lived in Vermont. Instead, the family members live and work in Granby, Connecticut.
While the parents own a second home in Victory, where they visit for overnight stays once or twice a month, all four Flanigans are on Victory’s voter checklist and voted there in recent elections.
According to a July 5 counterclaim filed on behalf of the Flanigans by their attorney, Hans Huessy, “All of the Defendants voted against Plaintiff in the recent election.”
That plaintiff, Victory resident Tracey Martel, ran for town clerk and town treasurer on Town Meeting Day, but lost both races to incumbent Carol Easter by fewer than four votes. Martel claims voter fraud is taking place in the town. The case is playing out in Essex County Superior Court.
In a series of interrogatories included in a July 20 Memorandum in Opposition to the Flanigans’ Motion to Amend, parents Robert and Toni Flanigan state that while they don’t live in Victory, they intend to retire there in about two years. The sons also plan to relocate to Victory with their parents at that time, since they live together.
It’s unclear, however, where in Victory the Flanigans intend to retire. They stated that their Victory Hill Road property in Victory has been for sale within the past year, and was advertised as such as late as March. The Flanigans have since taken the property off the market.
Though all four family members refused to state whether they are “residents” of either Connecticut or Vermont, Robert and Toni Flanigan admitted that for the past six years they have had Connecticut drivers licenses, listed their residential Connecticut dwelling on IRS income tax forms and paid residential property taxes in Granby, Connecticut.
They also admitted they do not pay the Vermont residential tax rate on their Vermont property and have not filed a homestead declaration in the state.
Toward the end of the approximately 30 questions posed to each defendant, the town asks the Flanigans about the voter registration forms they filled out to get on the Victory checklist, noting that all four family members left blank the section asking if they were residents of Vermont and had taken the Voter’s Oath.
To that question, parents Robert and Toni Flanigan gave the same answer: “Before submitting the form I spoke to the Secretary of State Elections office and I was told not to fill it out until we became full-time residents when we retire. They also told me I was eligible to vote in Victory.”
Sons Brendan and Robert III, in their answers, cite their parents’ contact with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office as the reason they left the voter registration section blank.
Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, in an email to True North Reports, said he is “not aware of any statements made by any of the defendants in the case” and “cannot comment on any of the facts or allegations in that ongoing court action.”
He did, however, attempt to clarify the law regarding voters with multiple homes.
“I will point out that, under the law, a person may be a resident of a town for voting purposes as long as they have ‘an intent to maintain a principal dwelling place in the town indefinitely and to return there if temporarily absent, coupled with an act or acts consistent with that intent.’ 17 VSA 2122(b).” Condos wrote. “There is no requirement, for instance, that they sleep a certain number of nights there each year, or have been physically present there for any set amount of time.”
He added that his staff is careful regarding inquiries from new voters “not to make any conclusions or determinations about particular circumstances,” adding that those are left up to the town clerk and the Board of Civil Authority.
“My staff refers to the law and tells the person that they need to determine for themselves whether they qualify under the legal standard,” Condos said. “We have not received any specific complaints and when and if we do, they would be forwarded to the Attorney General’s office for investigation and enforcement.”
Condos is an outspoken opponent of the bipartisan Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, and has called upon the attorney general of Vermont to help him deny the commission access to state voter checklist data.
It’s unclear how many times the Flanigans have voted in Vermont elections. However, the elder Flanigans have been on the Victory voter checklist for several years, with their two sons being added later.
When St. Johnsbury attorney Deborah Bucknam in a recent court proceeding asked Victory Town Clerk Carol Easter about adding the Flanigan sons to the checklist, Easter took her Fifth Amendment privilege.
Bucknam and client Tracey Martel allege in a March 21 complaint and mandamus petition that Victory’s voter checklist contains unqualified voters and non-residents, 11 of whom cast absentee ballots on Town Meeting Day. The complaint further states that multiple non-residents were illegally added to the voter checklist, in violation of a constitutional mandate that elections be “free and without corruption.”
CLARIFICATION: This clarification was added at 1:51 p.m. Nov. 8 to note that the Flanigans have been the defendants of a pending complaint alleging voter fraud — this does not mean they have been found guilty of voter fraud. Moreover, this story and its headline make no mention of tax fraud. According to attorney Hans Huessy, the lawyer representing the Flanigans, the court has since “dismissed all claims for fines and penalties” against his clients. In a Nov. 8 email to True North Reports, Huessy states, “This case involves a good faith disagreement over the meaning of Vermont’s Residency statute. That statute includes language that suggests a party can claim to be a resident of a town if they intend to live there at some point in the future.”
Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.