Launching his campaign for the US Senate in Georgia, Herschel Walker maintained that his deep roots in the state didn’t end with his stint as a football legend at the University of Georgia.
It was common knowledge at the time that the Republican hopeful had lived in Texas for decades, though he claimed to have had a residence in Atlanta for “17 years.” What was less well known, however, was that Walker’s wife raised tens of thousands of dollars in rental income for that residence, according to his 2021 financial disclosure forms.
The house was also the first official address of the Walker campaign when he made his offer in August 2021. Fulton County tax and estate records show the home is owned solely by Walker’s wife, Julie Blanchard, who also earned rental income from $15,000 to $50,000 from 2020 and 2021, according to the disclosure — identifying the asset as ” Residence in Georgia” defined.
Blanchard’s company also received a previously unreported $49,997 in COVID relief loans at Walker’s Texas address during the same period, according to federal data. In a since-revised financial disclosure, Walker claimed the company generated rental income for Blanchard, suggesting the company had an operating interest in the Atlanta property.
A Walker spokesman did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
The rental income generated between 2020 and 2021 suggests that not only had the Walkers not lived in Georgia prior to his campaign, but they had only used the home for a passive cash flow. That complicates the colorful tale Walker — a Georgia-born former Dallas cowboy who has lived in Texas since retiring from the NFL in the 1990s — has shared about his relationship with the state he now wants to represent in Washington.
Residency issues overshadowed Walker’s campaign even before he declared his candidacy. He was firmly rooted in Texas when Donald Trump was courting him to run against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in 2022, and signed up to vote just days before his official campaign announcement in Georgia. However, Walker has since picked up his upbringing in the small central Georgia town of Wrightsville along with his football days at UGA.
But as the campaign heads toward a December 6 runoff, questions about Walker’s residency have intensified. Last week, CNN announced that Walker had filed for both 2021 and 2022 waivers for his Dallas, Texas homestead, putting him in a difficult position between Texas tax laws and Georgia voting rights. (Local Atlanta broadcaster 11Alive News previously reported that it also received the 2020 exemption.)
The exemption earned Walker a $1,500 tax break, but required that he declare his home in suburban Dallas his “principal residence.”
However, in a September interview from his 10-bedroom Atlanta home, Walker told the Black-owned outlet Rolling Out that he and his wife had owned this property “for about 17 years.”
“It’s weird. We’ve had this house here for about 17 years. We’ve had this house here in Atlanta for about 17 years,” he said.
Walker’s name does not appear on the Atlanta home’s ownership records. And those files show that his wife has actually owned the home for well over 17 years, with her name first appearing in 1998 when her then-husband added her to the deed. She kept the house in her name after her divorce.
In that interview, Walker went on to say he “almost never” stays in that house when he visits the state, and claimed he doesn’t want to “fix it” every time he comes to town.
“The strange thing was that I sit on the board of hotels. And when I came back to Atlanta, I hardly ever came back to that house because I stayed at the hotel because — not that I’m lazy — I didn’t want to clean up,” Walker explained. “You know, you open a house, you have to fix it and do all that, and that’s why it’s easier to stay in a hotel and not come in the house. So I said that’s a little bit better.”
An ex-girlfriend who lived in Atlanta between 2008 and 2011 and dated Walker told The Daily Beast that if he came to town, they would meet either at her place or at a nearby Marriott hotel. In October, the same ex-girlfriend came forward to say that Walker, a total anti-abortionist, refunded her money when she terminated her first pregnancy in 2009. He then urged her to have another abortion in 2011, but she chose to have the child.
Federal law does not require Senate candidates to reside in the state they wish to represent until they are elected. But under Georgian law, prospective candidates must meet certain residency requirements before they can run for office; These conditions include the location of a homestead tax exemption.
While details of Walker’s official standing with the state are still unclear, voters may still judge the Republican harshly for it. For months, Democrats have made residency a focal point in their larger case that the Republican is unfit to represent the state in the Senate.
Still, Walker managed to stiffen the carpet diggers’ charges, largely thanks to his football exploits at UGA in the early 1980s, which gave him an almost unprecedented level of fame in Georgia. And in a campaign widely criticized for doing little politics and causing much scandal, Walker has relied on his past glory as a key appeal to voters. He led this celebrity to a narrow loss in the general election to Democratic incumbent Warnock and did well enough to send the contest to a run-off.
It’s unclear when or if Walker met Georgia candidate residency requirements, but his Texas residency is well documented.
Walker appears on Tarrant County property records as early as 1994, which also includes his name alongside Blanchard’s on a 2011 deed. That same year — when Walker urged another friend to have an abortion —playboy reported that he and Blanchard were engaged, although they didn’t marry until March 2021. And when they got married, state records show they did it in Texas.
Blanchard also used her Texas address on federal forms and listed it on campaign contributions she made through June 2021, after which she relocated to Atlanta, according to Federal Election Commission records. She used the Texas address again in a June 1 post of this year. (Walker’s personal Facebook page still says he currently resides in Irving, Texas, another Dallas suburb.)
The same address also appears in federal COVID loan data, which is linked to about $50,000 of forgivable loans to a Delaware company called Consolidated Broker Management. According to Walker’s financial disclosures, Blanchard receives income from self-employment from that company, and she identifies herself as CBM’s “president” in her campaign contributions.
CBM collected two COVID loans through the Paycheck Protection Program — one approved in May 2020 for $20,832 and another the following March for $29,165 (as a “grocery service provider”), according to federal data. According to records, both loans were used to keep jobs and both were forgiven entirely. The company also received a $1,000 federal disaster relief grant in April 2020.
In Walker’s first financial disclosure, Blanchard also claimed to have received “rental income” from the same company. However, that article disappeared when Walker filed an amended application a few months later, which now showed that his own company, H. Walker Enterprises, had collected rent. It’s unclear if either company has management interest in any of their properties.
Last year, Georgia election officials acquitted Blanchard after investigating whether she may have unlawfully cast a vote in the state while claiming to reside in Texas.