Democratic State Senate candidate Kathy Konst's husband declared Juno Beach, Fla., as his residence in bankruptcy papers he filed in 2003, contradicting residency claims the couple made earlier this week in connection with allegations that she broke the law by voting in both Florida and Erie County in 1998.
Konst and her husband, attorney Harry N. Konst, insisted they moved from Florida to Lancaster in 1992 while claiming that records showing her registering and voting in both states were fabricated. But Harry Konst on Thursday refused to discuss the new discrepancy, while Kathy Konst said she never knew her husband had declared bankruptcy.
"I don't recall anything about that. I don't know anything about his stuff or his finances," she said. "I don't know anything about anything."
She further charged that this week's controversy is a "red herring" designed to deflect voter attention from her hotly contested race against incumbent Republican Dale M. Volker -- the outcome of which could help decide the balance of power in the State Senate.
"I don't feel that any of this stuff that they're bringing up has anything to do with what we should be talking about," she said. "It's all opposition research to try and find anything they can to smear me."
According to court papers released Thursday by Erie County Republican Chairman James P. Domagalski and confirmed by The Buffalo News, Harry Konst declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the Southern District of Florida in 2003. He listed 140 Ocean Drive in Juno Beach as his residence, which the candidate later said was the address of his parents.
It is the same address Kathy Konst listed while applying for a Florida driver's license in 1994.
In the papers, Harry Konst said he lived at that address from 1988 to the present (2003), while also listing the couple's address on Bowen Road in Lancaster. Harry Konst estimated assets as less than $50,000 along with debts of between $100,000 and $500,000 to a number of creditors.
But after initiating telephone calls and aggressively defending his wife against the voter fraud charges earlier in the week, he refused to discuss the situation late Thursday.
"I am not the candidate," he said. "We're going to end the conversation."
He later said he would provide answers to questions about the bankruptcy filing in an e-mail.
On Wednesday, Harry Konst said the couple never lived in Florida after their move to New York State.
"In 1992, we moved -- period," he said then.
Harry Konst's bankruptcy records indicate one of the trustees in the case filed a motion seeking its transfer or dismissal based on its being filed in the wrong district. The case was then transferred to Buffalo, where it was settled late in 2003.
Domagalski said Thursday that Kathy Konst's actions during the campaign show a "pattern of conduct" raising serious questions about her ability to serve.
He listed her failure to file campaign finance disclosure reports on Sept. 19 as required by state election law, her inability to properly collect petition signatures for the Integrity Party that was thrown off the ballot this week by a State Supreme Court justice, and the latest flap over Republican claims that she voted twice in the 1998 election.
"The next time she files a minor party it should be on the 'My Dog Ate My Homework' line and not the Integrity Party," Domagalski said.
He also dismissed the candidate's claims that the records produced by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office had been doctored or altered.
"I challenge her and her husband to go to the United States attorney and demand an investigation," he said. "The fact of the matter is somebody voted in two places whether it was her or somebody else."
Domagalski also dismissed claims that Volker has run a heavy-handed campaign because he subpoenaed dozens of people who signed Integrity Party petitions to a court case seeking to invalidate the line.
"It's not his fault her petitions contained invalid signatures. That was her fault," he said. "She's the one who owes the apology, not him.
"Had he lost, he would have apologized," he added. "He didn't. He was right."
Kathy Konst continues to call "absurd" the allegation of Senate Republicans that she voted in Florida and New York on Nov. 3, 1998. She maintains that she had not lived in Florida since 1992, and questioned why Florida election authorities produced only the alleged 1998 voting record while producing no records from before 1992 when she acknowledges voting in West Palm Beach as a resident.