Boots & Sabers

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0730, 02 May 22

Tim Michels’ Residency Questioned

Good reporting from Wisconsin Right Now. There’s no doubt that Michels is a born Wisconsinite who lived in the state for many years. But if you get rich, buy homes on the coast, and live there, can you still be the governor of Wisconsin?

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels left some key facts out of his campaign biography: Namely, a $17 million Long Island Sound home located in a Greenwich, Connecticut neighborhood. The home was purchased in October 2020 through an oddly named LLC that makes ownership hard to trace. However, we have uncovered a building permit buried in a tranche of public documents that lists the owners as Tim and Barbara Michels.


Furthermore, from 2013-2021, all three Michels children attended and graduated from high schools in Connecticut and New York City, Wisconsin Right Now has documented. They are not boarding schools, and the kids were extensively involved in high school sporting activities there.


The youngest son graduated from a Greenwich high school in 2021, where he was on the sailing team, skippering yachts. That’s just the start of the family’s extensive east coast lives over the past decade. Tim and Barbara Michels accumulated more than $30 million in homes in Connecticut and New York City, with some of the ownership hidden through LLCs.


Michels and his wife gave Weill Cornell Medicine in New York a large donation last year in honor of their daughter’s inspirational recovery from brain cancer. A story on that gift reveals, “By 2017, the family was living in the New York area…” That article describes the family as “natives of Wisconsin.”

The language of the story is a little inflammatory. I doubt that the use of LLCs to purchase the homes was an attempt to hide anything. It is common practice for wealthy people who buy multiple properties. And I also give allowance for the issues of residency are a bit more nuanced for people with a bit of money. There are legions of Wisconsin retirees who are officially residents of Florida or Arizona, but they still consider themselves to be Wisconsinites.

Still, those issues of nuance are not applicable when running for public office. You live here or you don’t. The fact that the Michels kids have built lives in another state seems to indicate that they live there. We can reasonable think that their parents do too – even if they live a more nomadic lifestyle between multiple homes. Even if the parents are still spending most of their time in Wisconsin, it is a valid issue for the voters to consider where Tim Michels’ mind is really focused when his family life is oriented on the East Coast.


0730, 02 May 2022


  1. Merlin

    Well, that certainly didn’t take very long.

  2. Jason

    What are the residency requirements for candidates running for State Governor? This is a nothing burger.

  3. Merlin

    Let’s see how Michels answers this challenge. Running as an “outsider” he had to know this was coming and that it likely would be fratricide. He’s not the party’s chosen darling and he’s inserted himself between the queen and her coronation. I’m assuming that with national contracts that run for years, Michels would have a home just about everywhere he has a major construction project. First world problems, I know, but I’m eager to see how this goes.

    How long before certain Pubbies accuse Nicholson of committing atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  4. Owen

    The only residency requirement to be governor is to be a qualified voter in the state. To be a qualified voter, you have to have resided at a Wisconsin address for at least 28 days. I have little doubt that Michels is within the law here, but that doesn’t change the perception of voters.

  5. Merlin

    Dan O’Donnell is doing a good job interviewing Michels. Tough questions and Michels isn’t hedging his answers. Michels has all of the rough edges you’d expect of a non-politician. He hesitates a bit before he answers. Could be construed as being evasive, I guess, but could also be indicative of a non-politician simple thinking before he opens his mouth. Answers seemed plausible to me. Now we’ll see how those questions and answers are reported, because as Owen says, changing the perception of voters is the point here. I heard it live… now I want to hear how it’s shaped for the “perception” of the voters.

  6. dad29

    Heard it about the same way you did, Merlin. Michels was OK.

    But his mouthpiece/spokescritter Brian Fraley should have had that material out in public LONG ago–about 30 seconds after Michels announced.

    I’ll call that a FraleyFail.

  7. Merlin

    I’ve heard Michels live interviewed three time now. Jay Weber first, then Belling, and now O’Donnell. Belling and O’Donnell went right at him in a borderline rude fashion, Weber less so but not by a whole lot. Michels definitely lacks the polish of the front runner, but he’s managed to get air time with three guys who actually have an audience. I get the impression that he prefers to speak for himself. They ask, he answers. So far no circle-back spokesman, no scripted questions, no post interview fluffing of his answers. Seems like he has a pretty raw operation, although in the current political climate that might become more of a feature than a flaw.

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