Rep. David Cole admitted under oath during a deposition that he couldn’t recall spending a single night in a home he claimed on his official filing papers was his permanent residence in the district he was elected to represent, according to a filing in his ongoing election challenge.
Cole, elected to represent House District 10, also admitted that he never moved any furniture or belongings from his other residence in District 4; that his family members, including his wife, continued to reside in the District 4 home; that he couldn’t recall eating a single meal at the new residence; and that he has continued to own his District 4 home and pay the property taxes.
Those revelations were part of a motion to compel filed by former Libertarian candidate Elijah Boyd, who filed the challenge to Cole’s election due to residency issues. The motion asks a Madison County Circuit Court judge to force Cole to provide a copy of the deposition to Boyd.
In a separate filing, Cole’s attorney, Al Agricola, argues that it was not his decision to keep the deposition from Boyd, but was instructions from the impartial commissioner who was assigned to ask written questions during the deposition.
Boyd’s filing also claims Cole “repeatedly ducked, dodged and equivocated” answering questions about “his true residency and his failure to meet the constitutional requirement that he reside in his legislative district for one year prior to the November 2022 general election.”
APR first reported in October that tax records and other information appeared to show that Cole had falsified the address on his filing paperwork to run for office and that he still lived in a home in District 4. A reporter for APR witnessed Cole coming and going from the home on numerous occasions in the weeks prior to the election, and saw Cole entering the home as recently as last week.
When questioned specifically about his current residence during the deposition, instead of answering, Cole read a prepared statement.
“At the time I signed the lease for [the District 10 home], I intended to abandon my previous true, fixed, principal and permanent home [in District 4],” the statement reads. “I currently make my true, fixed, principal and permanent home in Madison County and the boundaries of Alabama House District 10. I made my true, fixed, principal and permanent home within the geographic boundaries of Madison County and Alabama House District 10 for at least one year prior to the general election held on Nov. 8, 2022.”
Cole repeatedly declined to offer proof of his residency, according to the Boyd filing. It asks the court to force Cole to answer simply whether he lived in the home in District 10 prior to the filing deadline.
That will likely be the final matter for the Madison County Circuit Court to decide prior to the challenge being turned over to the Alabama House for a hearing and an ultimate determination.
It’s unclear which way Republican lawmakers are leaning. Privately, several ALGOP lawmakers have expressed frustration over the Cole situation, saying the circumstances put them in an awkward position after two years of making “election integrity” a focus of the party.
“How can we talk about election integrity and all that stuff and then let a guy who seems to have falsified his address stay in office?” asked one GOP lawmaker, who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak candidly about the matter. “You could go to jail for faking an address if you’re a voter.”
On the other hand, some Republicans in the Legislature appeared ready to help Cole this session by way of legislation. In a “catch-all” bill supposedly about building a new Statehouse, a provision inserted near the end would have revamped the election challenge process and allowed Cole to skate. The author of that bill, Rep. Chris Pringle, argued that there should be no challenges after a candidate is officially seated.