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.