The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is filing a challenge against the residency of a state lawmaker from Janesville. State Representative Joe Knilans (R-Janesville) owns a home in the 45th Assembly District, even though he recently won a seat in the 44th District. Knilans says he’s trying to sell his home, but until that happens, he’s living in the basement of his brother’s house that’s within the district he represents.
However, Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Graeme Zielinski says property records for the home Knilans is claiming as his permanent address indicate the basement is unfinished, making it an illegal place for someone to live. As a result, Zielinski says the Republican lawmaker never could have legally declared the location as his residence in order to appear on the ballot last November.
DPW has filed a complaint with the Department of Justice, calling for an investigation into whether Knilans meets residency requirements. If he does not, Zielinski says the freshman member of the Assembly should be removed from office.
Knilans won his seat by ousting former Democratic Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan. Zielinski says there’s some irony in the fact that Knilans actually raised questions about Sheridan’s residency during the campaign.
City inspectors have requested the chance to investigate the property, in order to determine if the basement meets code requirements for someone to live there.
The Department of Justice says it has received the complaint and it is under review. Now that he’s been sworn in to office though, DOJ would likely pass on its findings to Republicans leaders in the state Assembly to determine if Knilans is qualified to serve.