Herschel Walker’s most recent scandal (we know, it’s hard to keep track) is actually an old one. Going all the way back to his campaign announcement last year, it’s been reported that Walker actually didn’t live in Georgia, the state he wants to represent in the U.S. Senate—at least not on a full-time basis.
He owns a house in suburban Dallas that he and his current wife occupied for years and where Walker receives a homestead tax exemption which is reserved for a person’s primary residence. His wife, Julie Blanchard, wasn’t registered to vote in Texas and didn’t vote in Georgia between 2008 and 2020, when she mailed in an absentee ballot...from Texas. That’s not necessarily illegal under Georgia law, which says pretty much that you have to vote where you live and that if you move away and intend to live elsewhere, your Georgia voter registration is no longer valid (a fact I know well since having moved from Atlanta to Pittsburgh five years ago).
But Walker has always had an ace-in-the-hole to use for plausible deniability: he still owns a house in Georgia. A campaign finance report from last year values that house at between $20,000 and $500,000. As long as that house exists, Walker can rebut his critics—including those who want him investigated for living outside the state he hopes to represent—with the fact that plenty of people own houses in more than one state. It’d be easy for him to satisfy federal law by moving back to his Georgia abode before he took the oath of office, assuming he beats Sen. Raphael Warnock in their runoff next week.
Now, a new report pokes a hole in that idea with receipts that, until recently, Walker’s Georgia home was occupied by renters who paid Walker and his wife thousands.
From the Daily Beast:
It was widely known at the time that the Republican hopeful had been living in Texas for decades, though he has claimed to maintain a residence in Atlanta for “17 years.” Less widely known, however, was that Walker’s wife collected tens of thousands of dollars in rental income for that residence, according to his 2021 financial disclosure forms.
The house doubled as the Walker campaign’s first official address when he launched his bid in August 2021. Fulton County tax and property records show the home is solely owned by Walker’s wife, Julie Blanchard, who also collected rental income from 2020 and 2021 ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, according to the disclosure—defining the asset as “Georgia residence.”
Blanchard’s company also received a previously unreported $49,997 in COVID relief loans over that same period, at Walker’s Texas address, according to federal data. On one since-revised financial disclosure, Walker claimed the company had generated rental income for Blanchard, suggesting the company had an operational stake in the Atlanta property.
Again, owning homes in Georgia and Texas, and even physically living in Texas, doesn’t preclude Walker from running to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate, at least not under federal law. Officials in Georgia and Texas may still have a say in whether he’s legally in the clear over his homestead exemption and voter registration.
But the records on rental income would poke a big hole in Walker’s argument that even if he wasn’t in the state full-time, he had always maintained a presence in Georgia—and wasn’t just a carpetbagger parachuting in to try and take what his party viewed as a vulnerable and valuable Senate seat. If the property is currently rented, or was rented again before Walker were to be sworn in next year, he’d theoretically need to find another place to live to be eligible to represent the state.