AUSTIN, Texas – A lawyer with the Texas secretary of state was fired after she spoke to a reporter about presidential adviser Karl Rove's (search) eligibility to vote in the state.
Elizabeth Reyes (search), 30, said she was dismissed last week for violating the agency's media policy after she was quoted in a Sept. 3 story by The Washington Post about tax deductions on Rove's homes in Washington and Texas.
Scott Haywood, a spokesman for Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, confirmed Reyes' firing but wouldn't discuss specifics. He had earlier told the Post that Reyes "was not authorized to speak on behalf of the agency."
Reyes told the Post on Friday a superior told her that her bosses were upset about the article. Williams has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Republicans, including President Bush (search), who relies heavily on Rove for political strategy.
While Reyes said she didn't know she was talking to a reporter, she said the press policy doesn't bar her from speaking with the media.
"The policy allows us to talk to members of the media," she told the Post. "The policy says if it's a controversial issue or a special issue, it needs to be forwarded on to someone else. Just talking to the media doesn't violate it, as I read it. ... Karl Rove didn't come up. It wasn't something you could classify as controversial."
She said she sent a certified letter to Williams's office asking that her dismissal be reconsidered.
The Post earlier reported that Rove inadvertently received a homestead tax deduction on his home in Washington, even though he had not been eligible for the benefit for more than three years. Rove was eligible for the deduction when he bought the home in 2001, but a change in the tax law in 2002 made the deduction available only to property owners who do not vote elsewhere. Rove is registered to vote in Texas.
The tax office admitted the mistake, saying it failed to rescind the deduction, and Rove agreed to reimburse the city an estimated $3,400 in back taxes, the Post reported.
Rove is registered to vote in Kerr County, Texas, where he and his wife own two rental homes that he claims as his residence. But two local residents told the Post they had never seen Rove there.
The Post reported Saturday that when its reporter called the Texas secretary of state's office for her story, she was told the press officer was on vacation and she was transferred to Reyes.
The attorney told the reporter that it was potential vote fraud in Texas to register in a place where you don't actually live, and she was quoted as saying Rove's cottages don't "sound like a residence to me, because it's not a fixed place of habitation."
The Post ran a correction Saturday saying Reyes had not been asked about Rove by name and that the story should have mentioned Reyes's further explanation that an individual's intent to return to a home owned in Texas is a primary factor in qualifying for residency.
However, the reporter did identify herself as working for the Post during two phone conversations with Reyes, and in the second one she said she was asking about a presidential adviser who had moved from Texas to Washington, the newspaper said.