Republican Lawmaker Darrell Issa Demands Answers from Senate Leaders, Newsom on Laphonza Butler’s Maryland Residency

GOP Representative Darrell Issa of California sent a letter to California Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Democrat Senator Alex Padilla of California, and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, expressing concern over Newsom’s recent appointment to replace late Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler, president of EMILY’S List — a Democratic political action committee (PAC) dedicated to electing pro-abortion Democrat women to office — late Sunday evening for the vacant interim Senate seat.

However, her home address is listed in Silver Spring, Maryland. Issa is questioning the constitutionality of her appointment to the office while a resident of a different state than the one she will represent.

“We’re not talking about the question of majority; we’re talking about 38 million Californians who have an absolute right to have somebody who puts California first — not who puts the District of Columbia first or Maryland, where she is a resident, first,” Issa said in a Monday interview.

“It’s not that he couldn’t find somebody,” continued Issa. “Instead, [Newsom] chose the most progressive African American woman he could find, seemingly for political purposes.

Gov. Newsom’s office said Butler moved to the suburbs near Washington, D.C., when she became the president of EMILY’S List in 2021 and owns a house in California. The governor’s office added that Ms. Butler plans to re-register to vote in the Golden State before she is sworn in.

“The quid pro quo of agreeing to pay your California taxes in return for becoming a senator is not an acceptable bargain,” said Issa. “That’s a privilege the rest of us don’t get.”

According to California law, to be eligible for a bid for Senate, a person must be a U.S. citizen, a California resident, and be registered to vote in the state.

Early Sunday evening, Butler’s EMILY’S List biography listed her Silver Spring, Maryland, residence. However, it was removed from her profile soon after it was announced she would be appointed to the Senate. A filing with the FEC from August 31 also showed her Maryland address.

Senate seat will be highly contested in 2024 election

The seat is highly contested ahead of the 2024 election, and Newsom’s decision will have significant implications for the deep blue stronghold seen as the poster child for Dem policies.

Butler is set to finish the remainder of Feinstein’s term in Washington, D.C., before the 2024 election. In a statement, Gov. Newsom described Butler as an “advocate for women and girls, a second-generation fighter for working people, and a trusted adviser to Vice President Harris.”

“As we mourn the enormous loss of Sen. Feinstein, the very freedoms she fought for — reproductive freedom, equal protection, and safety from gun violence — have never been under greater assault,” added Newsom. “Laphronza will carry the baton left by Sen Feinstein, continue to break glass ceilings, and fight for all Californians in Washington, D.C.”

Monday, Butler thanked Newsom for the appointment. 

“I am honored to accept Gov. Newsom’s nomination to be a U.S. Senator for a state I have long called home,” said Butler.

Butler will be the first openly LGBTQ+ legislator to represent California in the upper chamber and the only Black woman serving in the U.S. Senate.

Other top Democrats vying for the seat in 2024 include Democrat Representatives Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff.