Congressional candidate Bill Orton says the reason he didn't have a Utah driver's license until just a few months ago is because he has maintained residency in both Utah and Oregon.
The Democrat says he is not "a typical, garden-variety 8-to-5 job-type person." His law practice requires him to travel the country, and for most of the past decade he has maintained residences in Utah and Oregon.State laws prohibit a person from having a driver's license from more than one state. So Orton kept his Oregon license until this March, when his wallet was stolen during a trip to Hawaii.
Upon returning to Utah, he got a Utah driver's license.
An investigation by the Provo Herald also revealed that Orton, a tax attorney, twice has been the target of State Tax Commission warrants issued over delinquent taxes.
The questions about Orton's residency and back taxes means that all three major-party candidates in the 3rd Congressional District have had to answer items from their personal backgrounds.
Karl Snow, Orton's Republican opponent for the seat being vacated by Rep. Howard C. Nielson, R-Utah, has been questioned about his dealings with Michael Strand, convicted of penny stock fraud.
And John Harmer, who lost to Snow in the GOP primary, is listed by the Internal Revenue Service as owing more than $300,000 in back taxes. Harmer also had to fight off questions about his residency because when he filed to run for office his family lived in Bountiful, which is in the 1st Congressional District.
Court documents also show that Orton failed to resolve a minor traffic citation and an arrest warrant has been issued.
Justice Precinct Court records in Provo reveal that Orton was stopped by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper on Feb. 3, 1987, and cited for driving 15 mph over the speed limit. Bail was set at $40. Orton never appeared on the citation nor posted bail.
Asked why he failed to respond, Orton said he spent most of that month in Hawaii on business and didn't "even remember being in Utah in February 1987."
The two tax warrants against Orton, including penalties and interest, total $3,577.
Orton said he responded to the delinquent tax notices properly by filing an appeal, and that it is the Tax Commission - not him - that has failed to move toward resolution of the matter.
When he learned in April that liens had been filed against him, he paid them and again filed an appeal.
"The tax is paid," Orton said. "If I lose (the appeal) the state has the tax. If I win they owe me money back."
Orton said the investigation into court documents involving him was "pretty picky."
He also tried to deflect some of the blame to his opponent's camp.
"Either the Daily Herald is getting ready to blast Snow so they are blasting me first to show objectivity, or Snow's campaign is at it again."
He also said he would not get involved in commenting on Snow's personal background.