Renter undermines Rahm Emanuel residency testimony

Lori Halpin tells Chicago election commissioners that former W.H. chief did not keep personal items at city home

Published December 15, 2010 11:05PM (EST)

The woman whose family is renting Rahm Emanuel's Chicago home testified Wednesday that she hasn't come across most of the items the mayoral hopeful described leaving behind when he moved to Washington to become White House chief of staff.

Lori Halpin spoke to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners one day after Emanuel did in a hearing over the residency challenges to his bid for the city's top job.

Halpin told a hearing officer that she has never seen any of the 100 boxes or some of the other valuable family possessions that Emanuel has said were left behind, including in a locked area of the home's basement.

Emanuel testified Tuesday about belongings in his home, including his wife's wedding dress, clothes his children wore home from the hospital just after they were born, family china and others to defend himself against allegations that he forfeited his Chicago residency when he leased his home and moved to Washington.

But Halpin said she was unaware of any items like that being left in the house.

"I have never found anything locked in the house," Halpin said.

She said the Emanuels did leave some items behind including a piano, their master bed, an old couch, TV and an old cassette player.

Halpin acknowledged there are two areas of the house she has not been able to access -- an area behind a panel in the attic master bedroom and another behind a panel with hinges behind shelves in the basement.

Emanuel's lawyers asked Halpin if it was possible that the Emanuel family possessions are located there.

"Anything could be possible, I have no idea," she said.

Halpin and her husband Rob refused to move out of Emanuel's house when he wanted to break their lease and move back in as he ran for mayor. Rob Halpin also filed paperwork to run for mayor but withdrew from the crowded field shortly after.

Emanuel is fighting for a spot on the Feb. 22 ballot to replace the retiring Mayor Richard Daley, who didn't seek a seventh term.

More than two dozen people have challenged Emanuel's candidacy papers saying he doesn't meet the requirement that candidates live in the city for a full year before the election. He moved back to Chicago in October after working for nearly two years in Washington. His wife and their children will remain in Washington until the end of the school years.

Emanuel endured nearly 12 hours of questioning Tuesday from experienced election lawyers and regular Chicagoans who are challenging his candidacy without lawyers.

A Chicago Tribune/WGN poll released Tuesday night show Emanuel with an early lead, although 30 percent of those polled were undecided.

By Associated Press

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