“When my mother became ill with Alzheimer’s, my father decided that he wanted to keep her in the home on Townsend Street under his care,’’ Markey said. “He was a hero to me and my brothers. I decided to help him, so I made the decision that I was going to live with my father as he cared for my mother.”
In 2001, Markey purchased the home from his father’s estate for $150,000.
By then though, Markey’s living arrangements had already earned him criticism, and even ribbing from fellow Democrats.
In the mid 1990s, the Boston Herald quoted the old-school South Boston congressman, Joe Moakley, telling McGovern, then a freshman, that a congressman needed to own a home in his district. Many at the time saw it as a shot at Markey.
“No living in mummy’s house anymore,” Moakley said. “That just doesn’t cut it with voters.”
“Voters want a congressman who gets the same tax bills they do, a guy who feels the pinch when the MWRA’s water bills are skyrocketing,” continued Moakley, then the dean of the delegation.
Markey’s Malden home at 7 Townsend St., assessed at $204,800, is now listed as his principal residence. His 2001 mortgage for the property — and his 2003 refinancing — list the home as his principal residence.
But that issue is complicated for Markey. He has never taken advantage of the city’s popular primary residential tax break that would have saved him 50 percent on his $3,252 annual property tax bill. Markey said he “may have known at different points of time” about the availability of the tax break, “but I didn’t focus on it aggressively enough.”
Markey and his wife own a second home in Chevy Chase, purchased in 1991 and now assessed at just over $1 million. That home has also been listed at times as the couple’s principal residence, both in mortgage documents and the county tax rolls.
There is also no indication from the tax bills Markey provided to the Globe that he and his wife benefited from the separate homestead tax credit available to taxpayers in Montgomery County, Maryland, during the nearly 10 years their Chevy Chase home was listed as their principal residence. Markey said the banks were aware that his Malden home was his main residence. He said the Chevy Chase home was listed by the bank as a primary residence because it is owner-occupied and he does not rent it out or use it as a vacation home.
A handful of congressmen from other parts of the country ran into controversies several years ago when it was reported they had taken advantage of the homestead tax cuts on houses they had bought in Maryland and had claimed were their primary residences. At least one was forced to repay the tax benefits after a House ethics committee review. Markey was never implicated.
Markey also provided the Globe with a 2003 affidavit that he and Blumenthal signed for the Maryland mortgage refinancing in which the borrowers are asked their intent on the property’s use.
But that document only added to the confusion. Two boxes were checked — one deeming the property “a second home,’’ the other calling it a “primary residence’’ — leaving it unclear which of the two categories they were choosing.
The water bills on Markey’s Malden home, dating back to July 2007, show that he has never paid more than the city’s minimum charge, which ranged from $8 to $11. That means Markey consumed, at most, about a third of the water used by an average Malden household, according to records. In some months in 2007 and 2008, Markey consumed no more than a fifth of a typical Malden household. Markey said he uses little water when he is in Malden because he eats out at events and has no lawn.
Neighbors and local political leaders say Markey is connected to the community.
“He absolutely is there all the time, so why is there any question?” said Pino Iacuzzi, a 44-year-old mason contractor who has lived next door to the Markey family for most of his life. “I see Eddie a lot.”
Another longtime neighbor, Michael Cook, put Markey campaign signs outside most of the houses on the small street after Markey announced his Senate candidacy and reporters started showing up interviewing neighbors about Markey’s residency.
It appears that Markey also has made efforts to shore up some of that support on his street.
Fei Hao, a 25-year-old masters degree student at Northeastern University from China, said Markey made a special effort to introduce himself when Fei was walking outside recently.
Political leaders and city officials also closed ranks behind Markey, saying they see him at Starbucks, Boston Market, or a pan-Asian restaurant called All Seasons Table, and at important meetings when his help is necessary to get government support for redevelopment projects. Continued...