For more than a decade, California Senate hopeful Rep. Adam Schiff has claimed his primary residence is a 3,420 square foot home he owns in Maryland, according to a review of mortgage records.
At the same time, Schiff has for years taken a homeowner’s tax exemption on a much smaller 650 square foot condo he owns in Burbank, California, also claiming that home as his primary residence for a $7,000 reduction off the 1% property tax, amounting to a roughly $70 in annual savings. He did not take an exemption on his home in Maryland.
While Schiff has signed documents asserting both the Maryland property and the significantly smaller Burbank condo as his primary residences, tax records indicate that he paid his California property taxes in 2017 with a check featuring his Maryland address – the only year he paid with a personal check. And a review of past comments, pictures shared on his public social media, and records indicate Schiff makes his full-time home in Maryland.
Schiff is in a competitive primary in California for the Senate seat against Democratic Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee, and his dual residency claims could present a political problem for the congressman. Schiff announced his run in January 2023.
Deed records show Schiff, who was elected to Congress in 2000, designated the Maryland home as his primary residence in 2003. In 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Schiff refinanced his mortgage and again indicated it was his primary residence.
Los Angeles County deed records for Schiff’s Burbank condo, purchased in 2009, were notarized in Maryland. On one page of the deed, the state: California and the county: Los Angeles are crossed out and Maryland and Montgomery County are written in. The records also list Schiff’s Maryland home as an address the records are being returned to.
Marisol Samayoa, a spokesperson for Schiff’s campaign, asserted his primary residence was in California and said he had been open about it citing several news mentions and a mention in his book.
“Adam’s primary residence is Burbank, California, and will remain so when he wins the Senate seat,” she told CNN in an email. “As Adam has discussed openly many times over the years, including in his recent New York Times best-selling book, he and Eve made the difficult decision to move their family to the D.C. area to spend more time with his children while doing his job.”
His spokesperson also told CNN the properties were both claimed as primary residences for loan purposes.
“Adam’s California and Maryland addresses have been listed as primary residences for loan purposes because they are both occupied throughout the year and to distinguish them from a vacation property,” she added.
Despite purchasing the home in Maryland two years into his tenure in Congress, a biography on his campaign website from 2010 to 2014 suggested Schiff was raising his family at his home in Burbank.
“Settled in Burbank, CA, Adam and his wife Eve are the proud parents of daughter Alexa, age 13, and son Elijah, age 10,” read the biography, which made no mention of his Maryland home.
In 2020, Schiff refinanced his mortgage indicating the Maryland house was his second home, but a social media post from 2021 suggested the congressman was still living at the home with his wife. A school publication and athletic records also show his son was attending a local high school at the time.
A family photo on his website in 2021 also matches the exterior of his Potomac home.
Various photos on social media within the last year, some of which were publicly posted by the congressman, have also indicated Schiff is still living in Maryland.
On June 7, 2022, on the day of Democratic primary in the Los Angeles mayor’s race, Schiff posted a photo of himself wearing an “I Voted” sticker on Twitter in front of his Maryland home.
“California! Los Angeles! Voters are voting….so go, VOTE !” he wrote.
Schiff’s spokesperson told CNN he was in Washington, DC, for House votes and voted by mail.
To qualify for a homeowner’s exemption under California law, “a dwelling must be the person’s true, fixed and permanent home and principal establishment to which he/she, whenever absent, intends to return.” Factors used to determine if someone lives in the state are, “in-state presence, vehicle registration, voter registration, bank accounts, and state income tax filings.”
Multiple real estate law experts with whom CNN’s KFile spoke said Schiff is likely not in any legal jeopardy. The ambiguous language of the law means Schiff is likely legally in the clear in regard to his taxes and mortgage, and there is no group that tracks if other members of Congress fill out their tax and mortgage documents in a similar way. But the dual residency could still complicate his run for the Senate in the state’s competitive primary and present a political problem.
“On the merits, technically there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it,” said Candace Turitto, a professor of political science at the University of Maryland. The US Constitution says that members of Congress must have an “inhabitancy in the state at the time elected” – a fairly vague requirement.
“It might not mean anything to voters,” said Turitto, “but if one of these candidates can turn it into a larger argument about the quality of representation or integrity that Adam Schiff will display as a senator, it might work to create daylight in an otherwise tight primary campaign.”
Residency concerns have plagued politicians running for Senate positions over the years, some mirroring Schiff’s predicament.
In 2022, Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz faced questions about his candidacy in Pennsylvania despite a longtime residency in New Jersey, as did Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker who is a longtime Texas resident.
In 2014, longtime Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts faced questions about making his full-time home in Virginia.
This month, Sen. Laphonza Butler, who was appointed to the open seat left vacant by Dianne Feinstein after her death, was forced to re-register to vote in California when it was reported she too lived in Maryland at the time of her appointment.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated Rep. Adam Schiff’s potential tax savings after taking a homeowner’s tax exemption in California.
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