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Why is Colorado lawmaker's home address in his district for an empty lot?

Republican State Rep. and House Minority Leader Hugh McKean is not homeless, but he's registered to vote at a Loveland address without a home.

DENVER — It was unusual enough for the top Republican in the Colorado State House to get a primary challenge.

Now, State Rep. and House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, is addressing address questions.

His primary challenger, Austin Hein, is challenging McKean's residency. He filed two complaints: one elections complaint about his residency and another campaign finance complaint about the address McKean listed on his candidate affidavit.

Hein rightfully points out McKean's voting address is an empty lot.

"I believe that someone who's running for office needs to live in the place they're running for office," said Hein.

Why does McKean, in fact, have his voter registration at a snow-covered lot with no home?

"I'm building a house. When I went to get my mailbox key, they said I need to have my driver's license to get my mailbox key," said McKean. "I changed my driver's license, well in Colorado, that means it changes your registration, too."

In 2019, McKean voted against a bill that passed and became law, known as "motor-voter registration." The law automatically registers someone to vote when they get a license or renew their license. It also automatically updates a person's voter registration if they change their driver's license address.

"Because we have 'motor-voter,' (it) switched my voter registration to the house where I'm building," said McKean.

"I may be wrong here, but the statute says it's a place that you're commonly at. But I, kind of, doubt that a sitting legislator is sitting at that lot," said Hein.

It is legal to register without a home.

For those experiencing homelessness, state law says the following: "For the purpose of voter registration residence, a homeless elector shall identify a specific location within a county where the elector returns to regularly. This location may include a homeless shelter, a homeless services provider, a park, a campground, a vacant lot, a business address, or any other physical location. If the homeless elector’s registration residence does not include a mailing address, the elector shall also provide a mailing address."

McKean is not a homeless elector.

"If you go by, there's snow on it now. In about five or six days, there's going to be a big hole because we've got to pour a foundation," said McKean.

Credit: 9NEWS
House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland

"I don't really want to make accusations without proof, all I know is is that his residence that he has listed is not likely his residence," said Hein. "I believe that someone who's running for office needs to live in the place they're running for office."

"I live in my district. I have an apartment, 2950 Mountain Lion Drive. And I share that apartment with my son," said McKean.

That is where his voter registration was listed until late November.

The address McKean listed on his candidate affidavit is a UPS Store P.O. box in Loveland.

"I've had a P.O. box for all of my campaign stuff," said McKean.

The Colorado Secretary of State's Office will determine if that campaign finance complaint about the P.O. box needs to be investigated. A spokeswoman for the office provided the following information in an email:

"The purpose of the candidate affidavit is to certify that the candidate is familiar with campaign finance laws. Although we ask for an address on the affidavit, statute actually does not require it and we use it primarily as a means to communicate or send official notices and penalty statements to the candidate for (Campaign and Political Finance) purposes. Therefore, a candidate may use a commercial mailbox or a P.O. box as a mailing address and a physical address on a candidate affidavit."

Hein, the former communications director for previous House Minority Leader State Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, is now the political director for National Association for Gun Rights, which is connected to Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO). That group has taken issue with McKean's leadership at the State Capitol, particularly when McKean said he mistakenly voted in favor of a bill to strengthen gun background checks. He asked for permission to change his vote, but he was not allowed to do so.

"Conservatives, Republicans can't really stand on strong talking points, if our own people are breaking our principles," said Hein.

"I don't mind the primary, let's talk about ideas, but this kind of Washington, D.C.-style gotcha politics is what people are sick and tired of," said McKean.

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