Court filing accuses Louisiana House candidate of lying about residency status

By: - August 14, 2023 4:53 pm

(Todd McKellar campaign image)

A Republican candidate who qualified to run for a state legislative seat in central Louisiana has some questions to answer about his residency, according to a challenge filed in an Evangeline Parish court Monday. 

Todd McKellar, who registered last week to run for Louisiana House District 38, claimed a homestead tax exemption on a property he owned across the state in Calcasieu Parish as recently as April 11, according to a copy of the filing the Illuminator obtained. It also points out that voting records indicate McKellar voted in Calcasieu Parish in November.

State law requires candidates to live in a legislative district for at least the preceding year if they intend to seek election in that district. 

Plaintiffs in the suit are Evangeline Parish voters Gwen Fontenot and Renee Brown. 

“According to public records, McKellar has only been legally domiciled in District 38 since March or April 2023, five to six months short of the residency requirement,” Fontenot said in a press release. “…Todd McKellar is trying to trick his way into office by pulling his domicile out of a hat.”

The only other candidate who qualified for the race is incumbent Rep. Rhonda Butler, also a Republican. A ruling that disqualifies McKellar would leave Butler unopposed. 

McKellar did not immediately respond to calls or emails Monday regarding the residency challenge. He must appear in court Wednesday to contest the allegations.

In response to questions from the Illuminator, Fontenot said she has no affiliation or connection to Butler’s campaign and filed the petition after hearing general discussions of others questioning McKellar’s residency status. 

“I filed the petition because I believe that anyone running for a political office who will be responsible for upholding or making laws should follow the law rather than try to get around it,” Fontenot said. “How can he or anyone else expect that they can be trusted to do the job they are seeking if they are falsifying data to qualify for candidacy?”

McKellar, who owns a construction company, is a political newcomer. His campaign website has very few details about his ideological platform other than general information that can apply to almost any candidate: “Strongly advocates for law enforcement, military, healthcare workers, business owners and educators.”


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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots to 1997 when, at age 13, he built a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. Since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune and worked on staff at WAFB/CBS, the Sun Herald and the Enterprise-Journal, winning awards from the SPJ, Associated Press, Mississippi Press Association and McClatchy. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Muller is a New Orleans native, Jesuit High School alumnus, University of New Orleans alumnus and a U.S. Army veteran and former paratrooper. He lives in Southeast Louisiana with his two sons and wife.