Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Herschel Walker is the beneficiary of a tax break meant for permanent Texas residents—a possible violation of both Texas law and residency rules for voting and political candidacy in Georgia, CNN reported last Wednesday.
Records reviewed by the network show Walker benefited from Texas’ homestead tax exemption, shaving approximately $1,200 off his 2021 tax bill on his $3 million home in the Dallas-Ft. Worth suburb of Westlake. The Texas Tribune reports the former NFL star is expected to apply for the discount again this year, and would likely save about $1,500.
Reacting to the report, incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock—who will face Walker in a December 6 runoff after neither candidate received 50% of the vote in this month’s midterm election—asked on Twitter, “How can Herschel Walker represent Georgians when he doesn’t even claim our great state as his primary residence?”
According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, “only a homeowner’s principal residence qualifies” for the break.
As CNN detailed: “Questions have swirled around Walker’s residency since he actively began exploring the possibility of a Senate run in Georgia last year, and Democrats and Republicans alike hit Walker over the issue.
“To run for office and vote in Georgia, 15 rules, not all of which need to be met, are considered for establishing residency, which include where the resident takes their homestead tax exemption and where they intend to live permanently. The U.S. Constitution only requires a potential senator to be an inhabitant of their state when elected.”
“The state Supreme Court said that a homestead exemption alone was not dispositive evidence that could disqualify a candidate,” Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University, told CNN.
“At the end of the day, this is more of a political problem than a legal one in all likelihood… where Walker can be painted as a carpetbagger,” Kreis added. “It does call into question whether Walker’s change of residency was made in good faith.”
Indeed, comparisons with failed Republican Senate aspirant Dr. Mehmet Oz—who Democratic U.S. Sen.-elect John Fetterman’s campaign successfully framed as a New Jersey opportunist out of touch with the Pennsylvanians he sought to represent—were filling Twitter feeds following publication of the story.
Charles Kuck, a professor at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, tweeted: “Herschel Walker is a liar, a carpetbagger, and a moron. Please vote responsibly. #VoteWarnock.”
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Brett Wilkins is staff writer for Common Dreams.