Last Saturday, the Washington Post ran a "gotcha" story about Karl Rove. Like many members of Congress, Rove apparently failed to notice that, pursuant to a change in District of Columbia tax law, he ceased to be eligible for a D.C. property tax "homestead exemption" in 2002. As a result, Rove owed the District of Columbia about $3,400 in back taxes, and he has agreed to pay them.
In the scheme of things -- Rove's role in the Valerie Plame case, the horror of Katrina unfolding all around us -- it seemed like a trivial thing. The Post put the story inside the A section, and most of us ignored it in the crush of more important things. Most of us, but not all of us. News of the story made its way to Texas, and on Friday, a lawyer in the Texas secretary of state's office who was quoted in the story found herself fired.
Elizabeth Reyes was quoted in the Post's story saying that a Texas resident could be criminally prosecuted for voting in a place where he or she doesn't actually live. The question arose because Rove is registered to vote in Kerr County, Texas, where he owns two rental cottages but apparently does not live. As the Post has acknowledged, its reporter did not tell Reyes that she was being asked about Karl Rove.
Reyes says that one of her superiors has told her that bosses were angry about the Post article and that she was told she was being fired for violating office policy on dealings with the press. She has asked that her termination be reconsidered. "The policy allows us to talk to members of the media," she told the Post. "The policy says if it's a controversial issue or a special issue, it needs to be forwarded on to someone else. Just talking to the media doesn't violate it, as I read it ... Karl Rove didn't come up. It wasn't something you could classify as controversial."