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New claims delay decision on state Senate candidate’s residency

The State Capitol in Austin, shown in February 2023.
Evan L’Roy
Texas Tribune file photo
The State Capitol in Austin, shown in February 2023.

Carrie de Moor was set to argue this week that one of her Republican Senate District 30 opponents, Brent Hagenbuch, lied about his residency to run for the seat at the 393rd Judicial District Court in Denton.

However, on Monday, de Moor’s lawyers asked Judge Lee Gabriel to postpone the hearing due to new information received at the last minute from Hagenbuch’s lawyers.

In December, Cody Clark, a former Denton police officer also running as a Republican for the Texas Senate District 30 seat, first accused Hagenbuch of being ineligible to run, claiming he lives outside the district.

At about 10:30 a.m. Monday, de Moor’s lawyers said they received information about a new counterclaim of Hagenbuch’s sublease residency.

According to the latest court filing, Hagenbuch agreed to a “corporate apartment sublease” on Oct. 2 at Titus Transport, the business he owns at 2800 Shoreline Drive in Denton, for $1 of a quarterly payment.

Under the Texas Constitution, candidates running for legislative office are required to reside in the district they are seeking to represent for at least a year before the election. This means that candidates for Senate District 30 would have had to live there since Nov. 5.

The filing says Hagenbuch “slept there, showered there, ate there and lived there.”

Hagenbuch was not present at the hearing Monday due to his campaigning, his lawyers said.

Gabriel was upset about the last-minute filing by Hagenbuch’s lawyers, state Rep. Richard Hayes, R-Denton, and former provisional Attorney General John Scott.

“You should be prepared to argue everything that is pending,” Gabriel said.

The filing also says Hagenbuch leased an apartment at 2801 Shoreline Drive, directly across the street from the corporate office. It said he moved his belongings from his business to the new apartment, claiming he resides there.

Brent Hagenbuch
Denton Record-Chronicle
Brent Hagenbuch

Hagenbuch formerly served as chair of the Denton County Republican Party. He is one of four Republicans running for the open seat after state Sen. Drew Springer announced he was not seeking reelection. Hagenbuch has been endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Speaking with reporters after the postponed hearing, de Moor said she is not afraid of the case against Hagenbuch and his eligibility.

“I don’t take joy in doing this,” de Moor said. “I’m doing it because I think that the voters matter. And election integrity is extremely important to the state of Texas, and we can’t allow for this to continue. That’s why we’re fighting for it.”

Her legal team said the sublease presented Monday seemed suspicious.

“A guy shows up in court with a $1 lease that, if it’s true, would solve all of these problems for him, and it just magically shows up at the last minute?” Jack Stick, de Moor’s lawyer, said.

Carrie de Moor
Denton Record-Chronicle
Carrie de Moor

De Moor, an emergency room physician in Frisco, has been endorsed by Attorney General Ken Paxton.

After the hearing was postponed, Allen Blakemore, Hagenbuch’s spokesperson, told reporters present at the hearing that Hagenbuch’s opponents were “all following the playbook that Democrats are using against Donald Trump.”

“They fear the candidate, and so they’re trying to knock him off the ballot on some bit of legalese and legal technicality,” Blakemore said. “Brent Hagenbuch is a resident of the district. He is qualified to run, and he is running.”

Blakemore said de Moor’s legal team hadn’t done its homework and was not prepared to argue on Monday.

Jace Yarbrough, another candidate running for the seat, has submitted a letter to Republican Party of Texas Chair Matt Rinaldi to remove Hagenbuch from the primary ballot.

Yarbrough also filed a supplemental brief with the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth.

According to Yarbrough, Hagenbuch certified his residence as 1504 Highland Circle in Little Elm, which is in District 12, not District 30.

“Thus, it is clear from these public forms that Mrs. Hagenbuch is residing where she always has: at the Little Elm residence in Senate District 12 with her husband,” Yarbrough said in the letter to Rinaldi.

“This is all further evidence of the ruse Mr. Hagenbuch is attempting to pass off as legitimate: that he moved to a commercial building (where, for all the reasons stated in our challenge, he could not lawfully or practically reside) but that his wife remained in their lakeside home in Senate District 12. That simply did not happen, and Mr. Hagenbuch’s own public documents confirm that. He has never had a residence in Senate District 30, and I again reiterate my request that you find him administratively ineligible.”

Hagenbuch’s lawyers told Gabriel on Monday that he’s still allowed to run for office since Rinaldi approved his candidacy.

Gabriel agreed to postpone the hearing to next Friday, Jan. 19, at 1:30 p.m.

The primaries are set for March 5.