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.