Republican secretary of state nominee Kim Thatcher's husband moved out of Oregon this summer, records show.
Karl Thatcher gave his wife, state Sen. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), a $200 campaign contribution on Aug. 25, listing his address as a home in Spokane Valley, Wash. He gave another $375 on Sept. 30 from that Washington address.
Thatcher says her husband moved out of state to help their businesses grow and to help out with grandchildren in Washington. (The couple has four children.)
"We are expanding business operations in Washington, and Karl is spending more than 50% of his time in Washington," says Thatcher, who has represented Keizer in the Capitol since 2005.
One prominent Democrat who previously held the Oregon secretary of state job says where Karl Thatcher lives is a matter that should concern voters.
"It certainly does raise questions about what the candidate's intent is in terms of maintaining residence in Oregon and also consistent presence in Oregon, which if you're going to be the full-time secretary of state, your life would need to make room for that," says former Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, who has endorsed state Sen. Shemia Fagan (D-East Portland), Thatcher's Democratic opponent.
It is unusual for Oregon officeholders to have out-of-state spouses, though not unheard of. Oregon's Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden's wife and children live in New York, for example.
The Thatchers have business interests in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, including highway contracting firms and property investments.
"We also considered how important it was for one of us to be up there as full time as possible to help our daughter, who has 11-month-old twins, and had a very difficult pregnancy, and helping her manage all four kids during the COVID restrictions that Washington has," Thatcher adds. "Since I'm in office and have commitments here, he moved there to be close to her. We're still happily married, but like many couples who have grandkids, sometimes you go where you're needed."
Karl Thatcher shares ownership of the Spokane Valley house with their daughter, Kim Thatcher says.
Where a person lives is an important determinant of where the person pays income taxes. Oregon's top personal income tax rate, 9.9%, is among the highest in the country, while Washington state does not have an income tax.
"It's likely this year that Karl will file a tax return in both states (Washington and Oregon) given he's split his time there—mine will be in Oregon," she says.
Kim Thatcher says she has no plans to move to Washington, but instead expects her husband to return once his grandparenting services for his daughter are no longer needed.
It also means Karl Thatcher won't have a chance to vote for his wife. For this election, he is registered to vote in Washington state, says Kim Thatcher.