Hosemann Helps Commemorate 150th Anniversary of Army Corps Vicksburg District

Vicksburg, Miss. (Vicksburg Post) – Employees at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District joined local officials, residents and Division retirees to celebrate the Vicksburg District’s 150th anniversary at its headquarters on Halls Ferry Road.

The event featured comments by Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and District commander Col. Christopher Klein and video presentations on the District’s history and the experiences of retired employees.

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Lt. Gov. Hosemann Sets Sights on Healthcare, Tax Cuts

Jackson, Miss. (MPB) – Healthcare, tax cuts and environmental issues are all topics that the Lt. Governor plans to tackle in the coming months. While all of these were discussed and debated by lawmakers in 2023’s session, he says the “work is not done.”

Following the Dobbs decision, Hosemann tapped a committee of senators to focus on the well-being of women and children in the state. Hosemann hopes to establish something similar for healthcare as a whole to confront hospital closures and disparities in access to care.

“And during the last few months, I’ve discussed it in detail, but I believe healthcare is a salient point for the legislature this year and we need to go find out what’s going on in healthcare.”

Hosemann is also chairing the Legislative Budget Committee this year, which works to draft recommendations for the state budget. He says he hopes to see more progress on promises made by state leaders on tax cuts, both to groceries and income.

“You know, realistically, we have to absorb about a $525 million tax cut,” he said. “I think we were over about 690 million this year. So you can do the math and you know, that would have left us another 150 million or so that we would have had before the tax cut.”

The legislative budget committee will begin meeting next month.

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Mississippi Economy Continuing to Show Strength, Lt. Gov. Says

Jackson, Miss. (Northside Sun) – Total revenue collections in Mississippi for July of the FY 2024 year are 8.17% over the sine die estimate which comes to roughly $45.1 million, making year-to-date revenue also overestimate for the same amount.

“We are pleased that revenues continue to exceed estimates, a sign of a strong economy in Mississippi. We look forward to continuing to cut taxes, pay off debt, invest in things like infrastructure and education, and prepare for a rainy day which, hopefully, never comes,” said Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann.

Total collections for FY 2023 came to $7.7 billion while appropriations only accounted for revenue’s meeting $6.4 billion. The general fund ended the fiscal year with an estimated $1.3 billion in the bank.

The report compares actual revenue collections to what was in the sine die estimate for each of the main tax revenue sources the state receives. In sales tax, estimates and actual revenue were $12.4 million overestimates, individual income tax was $20 million over, Corporate, $4.4 million, Use tax $2.3 million and Gaming came in just under $1 million.

Mississippi has had a historic jump in revenue collections since FY 2020, which is a reflection of the calendar year 2019-2020.

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Pro-Life Advocate Delbert Hosemann Wins Miss. Lt. Governor Primary

Jackson, Miss. (Pro-Life News) – National Right to Life and Mississippi Right to Life hailed tonight’s primary election victory of Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann.

During the primary campaign, Lt. Governor Hosemann was wrongly attacked by his opponents as being a supporter of abortion.

“The voters of Mississippi have spoken and have shown that they respect the long-standing pro-life record of Lt. Governor Hosemann,” said National Right to Life Executive Director Scott Fischbach. “Mississippi Right to Life and National Right to Life are pleased that pro-life Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann will be on the ballot this fall. Delbert Hosemann has served well and deserves to be re-elected in November.”

Lt. Governor Hosemann was endorsed by Mississippi Right to Life and National Right to Life in the primary election and also for the general election to be held on Nov. 7, 2023.

“For nearly 30 years, we have worked with Delbert Hosemann to do everything possible to protect the babies and their mothers in Mississippi,” continued Fischbach. “Delbert is a true pro-life champion.”

Delbert Hosemann has always supported protections for unborn children and their mothers, and he opposes using Mississippi tax dollars to pay for abortions.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, Lt. Governor Hosemann appointed a study group to hold hearings, hear testimony, and draft legislation related to issues facing women, children, and families in Mississippi, including adoption, foster care, child support, and maternal and child healthcare. In December, the group unveiled a series of proposals, much of which has since been signed into law.

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Incumbent Hosemann Wins Republican Nomination for Lt. Governor

Jackson, Miss. (AP) – Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the state’s bitter Republican primary for lieutenant governor Tuesday, staving off a primary challenge for one of the most powerful positions in Mississippi government.

The results are the culmination of a contest that divided conservatives and turned increasingly nasty in its final weeks. Hosemann, 76, is seeking a second term as lieutenant governor after serving three terms as secretary of state. He called McDaniel a “pathological liar” during the campaign and decried the coarse tone of the race in a victory speech Tuesday.

“There are people on the internet that really are gutless. And what they do is spew venom for just people they don’t even know,” Hosemann said. “And to those people, I would ask you: When you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror, what have you done positive for Mississippi? And I think the answer is nothing.”

McDaniel’s loss was his third unsuccessful campaign for higher office after two failed bids for U.S. Senate in the past decade. The four-term state legislator of Ellisville hammered Hosemann throughout the campaign cycle for, in his view, being insufficiently conservative.

Mississippi GOP Gov. Tate Reeves will face Democrat Brandon Presley in the November election
In a speech, McDaniel said it was a “tough night” and that he’d keep fighting for his principles out of office. He later conceded the race to Hosemann in a written statement.

“Not for a moment was I built to compromise. Not for a moment was I built to reach across the aisle,” McDaniel said. “I was able to deliver a contrast between what we believe and what the moderates or what the establishment believes. Now the people tonight have rejected that.”

On the campaign trail, Hosemann touted a teacher pay raise, millions in new funding for public education, and a budget surplus. McDaniel said the incumbent appointed too many Democrats to committees chairmanships in the state Senate. The candidates also brawled over their commitment to restricting abortion rights.

In the November general election, Hosemann will face business consult D. Ryan Grover, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The winner will preside over the 52-member Mississippi Senate, appointing senators to committees and naming the committee leaders.

Educator Tiffany Longino, who ran a low-budget campaign for the Republican nomination, finished a distant third.

The Republican primary for lieutenant governor was one of several races to watch in Mississippi’s party primaries. Republicans currently hold all eight statewide offices and a majority in the state House and Senate. Primary runoffs are Aug. 29. The general election is Nov. 7, with runoffs Nov. 28.

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Clear Victory: Hosemann Wins Nomination in Republican Primary for Miss. Lt. Governor

Jackson, Miss. (Mississippi Today) – Incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel and another Republican challenger in Tuesday’s GOP primary.

Now facing only a little-known political newcomer in November’s general election, Hosemann in his victory speech late Tuesday night recounted numerous accomplishments and was looking forward to four more years running the state Senate.

“We want to build a state where our children and grandchildren want to stay and live,” Hosemann said. “… We are in in the best financial shape we’ve ever been in the state’s history. We are going to tackle so many of our state’s issues and we are going to solve so many of our state’s problems.”

Hosemann said he was trying to “temper” remarks about his opponent McDaniel and what became a nasty race in the homestretch. He also vowed to push for serious campaign finance reform, after he filed several claims McDaniel and related PACs violated state laws.

“When you have this much dark money pumped into a race — almost $1 million in the last week — it screams for reform,” Hosemann said. He also chided social media trolls who leveled attacks against him and supporters in recent weeks.

“Some of these people on social media, they spew venom at people they don’t even know,” Hosemann said. “When you wake up and look at yourself in the mirror, what have you done positive for Mississippi? I think the answer is nothing.”

Hosemann, 76, earned about 52% of the Republican primary vote on Tuesday, avoiding a runoff with McDaniel and assuring his spot on the November general election ballot. McDaniel received about 43% of the vote, and lesser-known candidate Tiffany Longino garnered about 5%.

Hosemann in November will face Democrat Ryan Grover, a political newcomer who ran unopposed in his party primary on Tuesday.

McDaniel, who in 2014 refused to concede after losing to former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the Republican primary, conceded late Tuesday night at an election night party in Biloxi.

“While the road to get here has been tough, I am forever grateful for the hard work of my grassroots supports who built this campaign from the ground up,” McDaniel said. “Tonight, it’s clear Delbert Hosemann heard you, and I know grassroots patriots will continue to encourage him to fight for Mississippi values and our conservatives principles.”

The four-term state senator also acknowledged to Mississippi Today that a lack of campaign dollars likely played a significant role in his Tuesday night loss, given Hosemann spent significantly more money on the race.

“Unfortunately, the money remains a difficult impediment,” McDaniel said. “We all know the rules. Whoever raises the most money has the best chance of winning.”

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann speaks to his supporters during his primary election party at River Hills Club in Jackson on Tuesday, August 8, 2023. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today
Hosemann, as a well-known Republican incumbent who had served two terms as secretary of state, by most accounts wasn’t expecting such a hard contest for reelection. But McDaniel, who has developed a loyal base of largely the malcontented far-right, started his campaign against “Delbert the Democrat” more than a year ago and appeared to be gaining ground. McDaniel has used this tactic in his previous unsuccessful runs for higher office — claiming he’s a real conservative and the Republicans he’s attempting to oust are not.

As with his past bids for higher office, McDaniel supporters launched mud slinging and trolling social media attacks against Hosemann and his supporters, including a faked endorsement of Hosemann by Black Lives Matter aimed at turning off white voters in north Mississippi. McDaniel, as he has done in the past, denied complicity in such attacks.

It didn’t help that Hosemann didn’t receive support from his fellow Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, with whom he’s often clashed over policy. Reeves at one point in the primary campaign season appeared to give a tacit endorsement of McDaniel. Should Reeves be reelected governor, this portends more clashes down the road as he tries to get a Hosemann-led Senate to help enact his policy proposals.

Hosemann countered by pointing to McDaniel’s ineffectual record over his four terms as a state senator. McDaniel, although a firebrand when giving a political stump speech, has long been known by fellow senators for his frequent absences from Senate proceedings and lack of work when it comes to legislating. He’s also usually clashed with Senate leadership and his fellow Republicans, and since 2014 has authored only three bills that passed into law: one recognizing a football team, another congratulating a pageant winner and another declaring a West Nile prevention week.

McDaniel’s previous unsuccessful statewide campaigns have been marred by his supporters’ dirty tricks — which at times required law enforcement to get involved and resulted in felony convictions and a jail sentence for one.

McDaniel for this campaign struggled to raise campaign money from people and businesses inside Mississippi, but he managed to get substantial help primarily from D.C. Beltway, secretly sourced dark money funneled through PACs. All told, about $1.4 million in out-of-state dark money was pumped into McDaniel’s campaign, a PAC he created and another than ran ads attacking Hosemann — a notable record for a down-ticket Mississippi state office race.

From the start, Hosemann accused McDaniel of major campaign finance law violations and filed complaints with Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office. Fitch for months appeared to ignore these complaints, but just days before Tuesday’s primary, she announced her office was investigating a state PAC created by McDaniel’s campaign treasurer and some of the complaints Hosemann raised.

The race highlighted Mississippi’s weak campaign finance laws and nearly nonexistent enforcement and brought calls for reform, including from Hosemann and Republican Secretary of State Michael Watson.

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Miss. AG Opens Investigation Into Pro-McDaniel PAC

Jackson, Miss. (Mississippi Today) – After months of inaction on claims of widespread campaign finance violations this election cycle, Attorney General Lynn Fitch says she’s investigating a PAC run by lieutenant governor candidate Chris McDaniel’s campaign treasurer.

The Invest in Mississippi PAC has been running hundreds of thousand of dollars in ads attacking incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann. It has been fueled by $885,000 in donations from out-of-state super PACs.

The Invest in Mississippi political action committee was created in July by Wisconsin political operative Thomas Datwyler. McDaniel lists Datwyler as treasurer for his campaign proper, which has also faced claims of flagrant campaign finance law violations from Hosemann. Datwyler has a history of running afoul of Federal Election Commission campaign finance rules with several congressional campaigns.

In a press release Friday afternoon, Fitch said her office has alerted the Invest PAC of “an investigation into potential criminal violations under the Mississippi Election Code, as well as other statutes.” Fitch said Mississippi’s campaign finance law “generously” protects free speech, “But that does not mean there is no line protecting the people from illegitimate influence of our democratic system.”

“The people of Mississippi should be able to expect that those who participate in our electoral process will not seek to exploit this careful balance and step over that line,” Fitch wrote, “and in this instance, there is evidence to suggest that has occurred here.”

A spokesperson for Fitch on Friday said the office was also investigating another election complaint filed by Hosemann, and that it had looked into another he filed but has closed that investigation.

Neither McDaniel nor Datwyler has responded to requests for comment this week on campaign finance issues and allegations.

Fitch’s office said the two new investigations were prompted by complaints Hosemann’s campaign filed this week with her office.

Hosemann’s campaign filed such a complaint on Aug. 3, one of several he has made since March about McDaniel’s campaign or affiliated PACs.

The latest complaint filed by Hosemann campaign attorney Spencer Ritchie opens with, “Once again, appallingly, I write to request that you investigate further violations of Mississippi law relating to state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s campaign for lieutenant governor.”

The complaint claims that the super PAC to state PAC donations are an attempt to bypass Mississippi’s $1,000 a year limit on corporate donations to a Mississippi candidate or PAC. It says that even federal law allowing unlimited corporate donations for independent expenditures in a race would not cover Invest PAC’s actions because its expenditures “cannot be classified as independent.” The complaint notes that “the contact person for the PAC is Thomas Datwyler (and) Mr. Datwyler is simultaneously the contact person for Mr. McDaniel’s candidate committee.” It also noted that the PAC does not appear to be claiming its spending is separate from a campaign because it did not file an independent expenditure report with the state as required.

“The dark money PAC and Chris McDaniel are synonymous,” Hosemann said in a statement Friday. “They have dumped almost $1 million in this campaign in the last week to steal the Mississippi lieutenant governor’s race and your vote. Do we really think a Washington dark money PAC cares about Mississippi citizens? Vote on Aug. 8 to send them the answer.”

Fitch as AG is the only statewide official with clear authority to enforce the state’s weak campaign finance laws. She has faced criticism this election cycle over lack of action on allegations of campaign finance violations, particularly in the lieutenant governor’s race. At the recent Neshoba County fair, other officials or candidates called for reform.

Republican Secretary of State Michael Watson said he would likely ask lawmakers to give him enforcement authority. He said he isn’t seeking more power, “But when people do not do their jobs, I will stand in the gap for Mississippians” – a dig at Fitch.

The list of McDaniel’s legally questionable maneuvers with campaign money is lengthy. But one came early in his campaign, involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A state PAC McDaniel created received $475,000 from a secretive Virginia dark-money nonprofit corporation. His PAC then funneled $465,000 of it to his campaign.

State law limits such corporate donations to $1,000 a year to a candidate or PAC. So the donation was $474,000 over the legal limit.

McDaniel’s PAC initially hid some of these transactions with incomplete, inaccurate reporting to the secretary of state’s office. But eventually, after questions from Mississippi Today, he first chalked it up to “clerical errors.”

Then, McDaniel said Mississippi’s campaign finance laws are improper, but he doesn’t have time to mount a legal challenge, so his campaign returned the money to his PAC. McDaniel said his PAC then returned the money to the dark money group, and he shut down the PAC.

READ MORE: Hundreds of thousands of dollars unaccounted, questionable in McDaniel’s campaign report

UPDATE: A spokesperson for AG Lynn Fitch’s office has provided updated information on investigations of incumbent Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann’s election complaints filed with the attorney general’s office. This story has been updated to include that information.”

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Hosemann: McDaniel Voted Illegally, Does Not Live at Residence

Jackson, Miss. (Daily Journal) – Allegations that Sen. Chris McDaniel does not live in his legislative district and has been voting illegally escalated Wednesday as Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann called on authorities to investigate, ratcheting up the back-and-forth between the two Republicans leading up to the Aug. 8 lieutenant governor primary.

McDaniel has been registered to vote at a home in Ellisville since 2009. According to reporting by William Browning, however, the property’s water meter usage records indicated no water was used at the property between May 2020 and March 2023.

McDaniel claims the property remains his “legal domicile” but admitted black mold forced him to spend nights away from the house. He said he and his family visit the home daily.

He did not answer Browning’s questions about why no water had been used for years.

In a statement, Hosemann said “it appears doubtful that he lived in his district, which means he voted illegally.”

The incumbent lieutenant governor further called for Mississippi’s attorney general, as well as the district attorney of Jones County, to investigate these claims and “determine before August 8 whether the voters of Mississippi have been misled and its election laws violated.”

McDaniel’s campaign provided the Daily Journal with the same written statement the campaign gave Browning:

“Ellisville is currently and will always be my family’s home—where I intend to grow old in our home on South Court Street. While renovations are underway to protect the health and safety of my children, our home is visited daily by my family. It remains our legal domicile, and we have no intent of ever abandoning our forever home.”

In McDaniel’s 2014 primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, he questioned Cochran’s residency. McDaniel’s current campaign has included rhetoric about election integrity and voter fraud.

Hosemann previously filed separate complaints with Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch about McDaniel’s alleged campaign finance violations. She told reporters last week those claims were still being reviewed, but there was no active investigation.

As of press time, Fitch’s office had not responded to the Daily Journal’s request for comment.

Observers, including Secretary of State Michael Watson, have complained the state’s campaign finance rules have not been strictly enforced. Watson has suggested the attorney general is not adequately using her enforcement authority. He said last week he would accept enforcement authority for his office if the legislature granted it.

Local county prosecutors technically could enforce campaign finance laws too, although they normally do not. Voter fraud is somewhat different.

In 2018, a Hattiesburg man was convicted for similar violations in which he voted in one county while living and running for state office in another. He was fined and given a suspended sentence of six months in county jail.

As of press time, the Jones County district attorney had not responded to the Daily Journal’s request for comment.

In a separate matter, McDaniel ally Lauren Smith, currently challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Chad McMahan in Lee County’s District 6, admitted to casting a ballot in a voting district where she does not reside.

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COLUMN: Hosemann, Not McDaniel, for Lt. Governor

Jackson, Miss. (Northside Sun) – Chris McDaniel is up against Delbert Hosemann in the Republican primary race on Tuesday, August 8. It is essential for those of us who have opposed McDaniel for any higher office in the past to show up for the Republican primary on Tuesday, August 8 and vote in opposition to him again. Even more than that, it is time on August 8 to show our appreciation for Delbert Hosemann’s thoughtful use of the formidable powers of the Lt. Governor to move Mississippi forward.

Mississippi in my view cannot afford for McDaniel to beat Hosemann to become our next Lieutenant Governor. McDaniel’s state Senate legislative record, as a majority of his Senate colleagues know very well, is undistinguished. Virtually every piece of legislation McDaniel ever wrote died in committee. McDaniel has been a person of little influence or substance among the Senators. My concern though is that there are so many undecided votes out there in this race. No one concerned about McDaniel’s quest to become the second-highest ranking elected officer in Mississippi can afford to stay home and take the outcome for granted. The worst could happen. We have to get out and vote for Hosemann Tuesday, August 8.

When McDaniel lost to Senator Thad Cochran in 2014, he was as ungracious a loser as any loser there ever was. McDaniel vigorously challenged his loss to Senator Cochran–who was always, but always, a gentleman–in the courts. I was one of a number of volunteer lawyers who went around to the courthouses to help audit the results for the Senator’s team. Senator Cochran was the clear winner over his Tea Party opponent. McDaniel had no legitimate or timely challenge to make. The courts soundly rejected McDaniel’s aggressive claims against Senator Cochran’s victory. I felt strongly then. After listening to McDaniel’s absurd, negative campaigning, I feel just as strongly now. McDaniel’s noise needs to be stopped once again at the ballot box. We cannot afford for the strong powers of the Lt. Governor to fall into the wrong hands.

In contrast to McDaniel’s failed Senate career, Delbert Hosemann has understood that the post of Lt. Governor in the right hands can be, and is designed to be, a powerful and important position in the Mississippi government. Hosemann has used his powers thoughtfully in the Senate to move Mississippi ahead to a better future: in economic development, infrastructure, education, healthcare, help for parents of autistic children, and helping Mississippi deal with a crisis for treatment of mental health.

One of Delbert Hosemann’s most successful programs was a 1:1 match program for cities and counties to improve water and sewer systems in need of repair. In Jackson that meant $37 million for Jackson’s failing system, which resulted in $74 million invested in the system—all in addition to the $600 million from the federal government. For all us in Jackson who found mud in the bottom of our bathtubs, and have had to buy bottled water for years, Hosemann’s work strikes a chord.

Delbert Hosemann led the way for investment of more than $300 million in teacher pay raises, resulting in an average of $6,000 for every teacher in Mississippi. Hosemann provided more resources for much needed classroom supplies so teachers would not be left to buy them on their own out of their pay. He helped invest millions in adding thousands of high-quality pre-K seats for four-year-old children (adding 5,600 new seats in four years), provided math and reading coaches for districts, and provided school buildings.

Hosemann used his position in the Senate to provide a $103 million stabilization grant to hospitals. He invested in community mental health systems—putting Mississippi closer to being able to end its consent decree status in the mental health crisis.

The choice on Tuesday, August 8 is between the continued thoughtful approach to the formidable powers of the office of Lt. Governor that Delbert Hosemann offers, and the unproductive noise and ineffective chaos that is all McDaniel offers. Mississippi cannot afford to waste time with Mr. McDaniel. We cannot afford to be passive either. Please make a point to get out of the house on Tuesday, August 8. Vote in the Republican primary to move Mississippi ahead with Delbert Hosemann.

Robert P. Wise is a Northsider.

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COLUMN: Questions Arise About McDaniel’s Honesty, Residency

Greenwood, Miss. (Greenwood Commonwealth) – There are a few issues in which I agree with Chris McDaniel.

Like him, I am disappointed that the Mississippi Senate, under the leadership of Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, has been an obstacle to restoring the initiative process that citizens had for three decades until the Mississippi Supreme Court killed it in 2021 over a technicality.

I also agree that the state’s regressively high sales tax on groceries should be cut, if not eliminated, although McDaniel goes too far in his tax-cutting ambitions by wanting to get rid of the personal income tax at the same time.

The money to operate state government has to come from somewhere. You either have to tax income or consumption, or, as is the current situation in Mississippi, tax some of both. It may sound great on the political stump to talk about slashing taxes, but if you go too far, eventually essential government services suffer.

What bothers me most, though, about McDaniel is that I don’t trust him.

During his Republican primary challenge to Hosemann, there has been a lot written and said about McDaniel’s apparent violation of state campaign finance laws.

This past week at the Neshoba County Fair, Attorney General Lynn Fitch was pressed about why she has not done more to investigate the complaints, filed by Hosemann, about the matter.
Hosemann, as a former secretary of state, knows a thing or two about Mississippi’s campaign finance laws. But it didn’t take an expert in the laws to conclude that McDaniel’s campaign wasn’t even close to following them.

His political action committee took in a $475,000 donation from a Virginia-based nonprofit corporation that doesn’t disclose its donors. Bad enough that McDaniel, who claims to champion greater disclosure on political contributions, was OK with hiding who was trying to bankroll his campaign. Even worse, the contribution was grossly over the legal limit — $474,000 over, to be exact.

McDaniel’s PAC eventually returned the money, but not before it had first funneled most of it to his campaign and got caught trying to obfuscate the money trail through incomplete and inaccurate campaign finance reports that McDaniel tried to blame on “clerical errors.”

That’s the thing about McDaniel and the folks who surround him. When things don’t add up, they either don’t answer the questions or they try to deflect them with nonsense.

Another example was recently provided by William Browning, a former Commonwealth reporter who now writes occasional freelance pieces and also posts some of his work to an online “newsletter” that he maintains.

Browning lives in Ellisville, the same small Jones County town where McDaniel claims to live. McDaniel’s state Senate bio lists 506 South Court St. as his home, and it’s also where he has been registered to vote since 2009.

There’s no question that McDaniel owns the residence. What Browning questioned is whether the legislator or anyone else ever stays there.

“In four-plus years I’ve never seen any activity at the home,” writes Browning. “Curtains are always drawn. No lights ever appear on. The backyard gazebo … looks abandoned.”

When Browning sent McDaniel some questions about the situation, the Republican’s campaign team responded that the house on South Court Street “remains occupied and central to the McDaniel family’s daily lives.” The campaign added that McDaniel and his family spend nights elsewhere at an undisclosed location because the house in Ellisville has black mold and poses a health risk to his two sons, but that the problem is being addressed by contractors.

“While renovations are underway to protect the health and safety of my children, our home is visited daily by my family,” McDaniel said in a statement provided by his campaign. “It remains our legal domicile, and we have no intent of ever abandoning our forever home.”

Being a good reporter, Browning didn’t accept all of that at face value. For one, he’s never seen any contractors or work being done at the house, which he frequently passes on his way to the neighborhood grocery. So he made a public records request for McDaniel’s water records from the town.

McDaniel’s water meter, according to Browning, had the same reading from December 2017 to February 2018, and then the account was closed for a year. It was reopened shortly after McDaniel announced in 2019 that he would be running for reelection to his state Senate seat, but the next four years showed little to no water consumption. In fact, for 34 months, from May 2020 through March 2023, the last month Browning looked at, the meter reading did not change.

Writes Browning: “I asked McDaniel’s campaign about this, pointing out that it seemed odd that such a small amount of water, if any, had been used at the address in years, especially since McDaniel claims the home is visited daily. His campaign did not respond.”

It also didn’t answer whether McDaniel’s “not forever home” is inside the district from which he was elected.

Those are not hard questions — unless, of course, you don’t want the answers to be known.

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