[StBernard] FOX 8 Investigation: La. State Rep's residency questioned

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Thu Feb 10 08:52:19 EST 2011


A FOX 8 investigation answers questions about a local state lawmaker and why
she doesn't live in the district she represents.

Nita Hutter has been the state representative for District 104 in St.
Bernard Parish for more than 10 years.

But that's not the place she calls home.

Our investigation began 5 months ago.

On September 16th, 2010, State Representative Nita Hutter tidied up outside
her Old Metairie home, then takes off for work heading down Metairie Road to
Delgado Community College near City Park.

The next day, FOX 8 tracks Hutter again leaving her house just after 9am.

On September 23rd, it was the same routine as the state legislator, not in
session at the time, left her home just off Metairie Road and heads to her
full-time job.

FOX 8 also uncovered an act of sale showing Hutter purchased the house in
July of 2007.

Three months later, she was re-elected to state House District 104 in Saint
Bernard Parish with 69 percent of the vote.

Her constituents say they haven't seen much of her.

One St. Bernard Parish resident told FOX 8, "The only time I seen her, was
when they elected her woman of the year."

And more than 3 years later, Hutter's home at 2713 Golden Drive in Chalmette
sits boarded up to the dismay of neighbors.

Barry Uhle, who lives down the street says, "I've complained to the parish,
went to the community service department and it still sits. That's our
neighbors concerns.. not so much where she's living, but with her being a
state rep, you'd expect them to take better care of their property."

Rep. Hutter responded by saying, "I understand that, and I applaud the
people who were so resilient that they were able to come back. Unfortunately
I was not one that had that opportunity"

Hutter agreed to sit down with FOX 8 for an exclusive on camera interview as
to why she hasn't returned to the place she's called home most of her life.

"While dealing with the issues of the legislature, there are also personal
issues, obligations and setbacks," Hutter said.

The state rep, now in her third term in office, says she's had issues with
contractors, the Road Home and an ailing 95 year-old mother who needed to be
closer to a hospital.

The home she purchased in Old Metairie was almost a replica of the house her
mom lost during Hurricane Katrina.

"My original plan was to put my mom here and start rehabbing my house and
that was 2007," says Hutter. "That's how complicated Katrina has been for so
many people, myself included."

Hutter has preliminary house plans in hand and says she's working with a
contractor to get the ball rolling on Golden Drive.

Some people in her district say they understand and think her intentions are
probably right.

"That clock has now ticked. From now on, the old rules apply of living where
you represent," FOX 8 Legal Analyst Joe Raspanti says.

But for officials already in office, the domicile law doesn't apply until
they run for office again.

Representative Nita Hutter was the only vote against closing the loophole.

She says she was making a statement.

"It wasn't about the politics of it, it was about reality of what we're
still facing."

Hutter says whether politics are in her future or not, her plan is to
eventually move back to St. Bernard Parish.

"I want to be back home.. my intention is to be back there," she says.

Hutter is term-limited out in the house. This is her last year in office.

If she runs for another office, she will have to reside in the district
where she runs.

One voter told FOX 8, as long as Hutter does her job properly for the people
of St Bernard, that's all that matters.

And turns out, the law is actually on Hutter's side.

Before Katrina, a candidate had to live in the district where they ran.

After the storm, state lawmakers created an exception for those who were

That loophole closed with the passing of House Bill 671 last year.

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