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It has been more than six months since Herschel Walker, once a Republican Senate nominee, conceded defeat. But it’s been even longer since the Georgia Secretary of State’s office launched its investigation into questions surrounding the college football legend’s residency. And while the race is over, this investigation is not over.
In emails to The Daily Beast, the bureau confirmed that the whereabouts investigation, launched on November 28, 2022, is ongoing. The agency produced a case sheet confirming the investigation entitled “Fulton County Residency Issue with Candidate.” Two people familiar with the investigation confirmed to The Daily Beast that the office had been actively working on the case for the past few months, including contacting family members.
It is unclear why the investigation has dragged on. Residency issues are usually resolved quickly – one way or another. For example, as early as August 19, 2021, the state of Georgia opened a voter residency investigation into Walker’s wife, Julie Blanchard. The bureau closed the investigation a month later, finding that she had committed no violations.
Anthony Michael Kreis, who specializes in voting law at Georgia State University College of Law, told The Daily Beast he was “surprised” to learn the investigation was still open.
“I’ve always been skeptical of the idea that Herschel did anything wrong on the residency issue,” Kreis said. “Residency inquiries tend to be very straightforward and while this was politically sketchy I always thought it wasn’t an issue from a legal point of view so I’m surprised it would take so long to complete the investigation.”
Questions about Walker’s residence accompanied his campaign from the beginning. However, those questions surfaced again in late November, a few weeks after he forced a runoff against incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA). At the time, CNN reported that the former NFL star was claiming a tax exemption for his Texas home in both 2021 and 2022 — an exemption that the state comptroller says is only possible for a “principal residence.” According to CNN, the exemption saved him about $1,500 last year.
Walker — a former Dallas Cowboy who lived in the Dallas area for decades before announcing his candidacy for Georgia in August 2021 — had claimed the Texas waiver for the home since 2012. But all the while he retained one of Georgia’s most recognizable names: as a University of Georgia football star in the early 1980s — despite dropping out of school early and pursuing a pro career in the US Football League.
The CNN report raised legal issues in both states — tax laws in Texas and residency requirements for candidates and voters in Georgia, where Walker had registered to vote weeks before his campaign began. However, Kreis said residency requirements for candidates in Georgia are quite flexible, with homestead entitlement being just one of several data points officials are considering.
“The deciding factor is whether the person moved to their primary residence with the intention of staying there,” Kreis told The Daily Beast.
Walker and Blanchard had lived together in Texas for years, but during the race they stayed in a home in the Atlanta area that Blanchard had owned for decades, which also served as the campaign’s first official address. However, The Daily Beast reported that the couple may not have previously lived in the home in person at all, as Blanchard took between $15,000 and $50,000 in rental income for the home between 2020 and 2021 and lists the asset as “Georgia residence.” has.
While Kreis expressed surprise at the lengthy investigation, he also offered a harmless possibility.
“Perhaps, and I think most likely, it’s because the Secretary of State’s office in particular, and Fulton County in general, has been inundated with work related to the 2020 election,” Kreis said.
“It can go both ways though,” he continued. “Why don’t you just lock it up and take it off your desk?”
When it was learned that investigators not only filed the case, but actively worked on it that year, Kreis replied, “It’s almost inexplicable to me.”
He suspected “further legal questions could arise from the complaint,” but said he didn’t know why the Secretary of State would leave the file open “unless they investigate further, await information, or possibly provide information to one.” other agency continues.” Noting that the Walker campaign had some issues, Kreis noted that campaign finance issues — uncovered in recent Daily Beast reports — may have sparked federal involvement.
According to the investigation case sheet, the investigation stemmed from a complaint, but the complainant’s name was blacked out. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on November 28, the day the investigation began, that a woman named Ann Gregory Roberts filed a complaint with the Attorney General and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.)
“The only other thing I can think of is that the US State Department investigator pulled together and might have uncovered something else, and given how sloppy his campaigning was, I wouldn’t be shocked if they at “If someone else is, or was asked to find something else, or possibly cooperating with the Justice Department — that would be the more nefarious speculative aspect,” he said.
But The Daily Beast also reported that at the same time Blanchard was withdrawing rental income from the Atlanta property, a company she owned also received about $50,000 in federal COVID relief loans — at Walker’s address in Texas. One of Walker’s financial disclosure statements claimed that his wife’s business also generated rental income for her, suggesting the company had an interest in the Atlanta property.
The Daily Beast reached out to Walker and a campaign official for comment, but received no response.
When Fox News asked Walker about residency issues just before the runoff, Walker shrugged it off as his opponent’s “desperate” attack.
“Everyone in Georgia knows it [sic] that I was born and raised in Georgia and when I die I will be dead in Georgia,” Walker said. “Everyone knows that.”