Former Madison County judge Ann Callis's campaign for Congress has gotten complicated in recent days.
The Lee Enterprises newspapers bureau in Springfield published a story on Sept. 13 raising questions about Callis's residency. The report stated that Callis, when she was still a Madison County judge, signed multiple mortgage papers identifying her residence as a home she owns with husband Jim Holloran in Kirkwood, Mo. Holloran is a St. Louis attorney.
Callis, who was serving as chief judge at the time, stepped down after a 19-year judicial career in May 2013 to run as a Democrat for Congress in the 13th Congressional District. On the stump she has sympathized with the middle class, yet has been called "narrative challenged" because of her wealth.
The Lee Enterprises article stated that the newspaper had obtained copies of mortgage records and that a Callis’ campaign spokesperson, David Miyashiro, confirmed Callis signed the documents, but said that Callis is a resident of Illinois who lived in a house she owns in Troy until moving into a rental house in Edwardsville for the campaign.
But, the article also published statements from Holloran, Callis's daughter Caroline Rongey, Gail Tognarelli, wife of Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli, and Circuit Clerk Mark von Nida, all of whom vouched for Callis as a Troy resident, before renting the house in Edwardsville.
Rongey and Holloran blame Davis for raising the residency issue.
According to the article, Rongey stated: “These new attacks on my mom, my brother, and me are completely false, and it’s really shameful that Congressman Davis would try to say our family wasn’t living in Illinois while my mom was a judge.
“I was proud to grow up in Madison County and I have great memories of cheerleading for Troy’s Triad High School and watching my brother take Triad to the Class 5A playoffs as a starting quarterback. Congressman Davis needs to leave our family alone.”
Holloran stated, according to the article: "Ann has lived in Madison County long before we were married, and it’s obvious Congressman Davis is grasping at straws here. If Congressman Davis had bothered to look at the facts, he would see that I was the primary signer of these documents, which is why I listed my longtime address in Missouri. Ann signed as my wife, but she’s never been a resident of anywhere but Madison County.”
In an editorial published a few days later, Lee Enterprises-owned St. Louis Post-Dispatch pummeled the Callis campaign for blaming the residency problem on a mortgage document form, which Miyashiro explained was not roomy enough to cite Troy as her official residence.
"Blaming the form is bad form, especially when she listed herself as a Missouri resident on several other forms," the Sept. 17 editorial says.
The Davis campaign then reacted by calling out Callis on the residency question, and for airing "untruthful bombs" in her latest TV commercial.
Callis's ad starts out with a narrator's voice: "Rodney Davis will tell you he started out small, but Davis hit the big time in Washington. As a congressman, Davis spent 40 grand at D.C. steakhouses. He wined and dined with insiders, and voted to protect tax breaks for millionaires. Davis shut down the government, but kept his own taxpayer funded perks like a private gym and first class flights."
The ad ends with Callis pictured, saying: "I'm Ann Callis. I approve this message. I'll do without the perks, so we can do more for middle class families."
Davis campaign manager Tim Butler put out a statement that Davis actually voted to keep the government "up and running," and cited his roll call vote from Sept. 20, 2013.
Butler also cited Davis's votes to ban first class flights by members of Congress and to stop members for receiving taxpayer funded healthcare for life. He also stated that Davis pays his own money for his gym membership.
"Ann Callis is running a desperate campaign of deceit and untruthfulness," Butler said in a press release. "This ad only continues a dishonest pattern established over many years when she signed multiple documents attesting to her residency in Missouri while serving as an elected judge in Illinois. As an attorney, she should know that her residency in Missouri violated the Illinois Constitution."
Butler also raised the retirement and healthcare benefits Callis will be entitled to receive for her career on the bench.
"Ann Callis also needs to let the public know about her own gold-plated judicial pension, and her free lifetime health care, both courtesy of the taxpayers of Illinois," Butler said. "I doubt she wants to talk about that, but instead she will continue to attack Congressman Davis."
Davis, a Republican from Taylorville, was first elected in 2012. The 13th Congressional District is considered a swing district and highly competitive.
Davis has been supported by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and Callis has been supported by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).