NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Republican gubernatorial nominee Ashley Kalus acknowledged Wednesday her family continued to receive a homestead exemption on a house in Illinois even after she bought a home in Newport last year, saying her husband continued to live out of state until recently.
The assessor’s office in Moraine Township, which is located in the suburbs outside Chicago, confirmed to Target 12 that Kalus and her husband, Jeffrey Weinzweig, have been receiving a $6,000 annual tax break on a 5,693-square-foot home in Highland Park, Illinois, that they bought for $1.2 million in 2012.
Under state law, the homestead exemption is supposed to be only for homeowners who live in their residence full-time. Kalus said that was always true for her husband, who she said stayed in Illinois while she was living in Rhode Island to manage a state COVID-19 contract they won.
“Ashley’s husband, Jeff, was still in Highland Park running his medical practice in Chicago — while Ashley was here in RI overseeing vaccine and testing,” Kalus spokesperson Matt Hanrahan wrote in an email statement on Wednesday. He also noted that Illinois real estate taxes are paid a year in arrears, “meaning 2022 have not yet been filed.”
A Zillow listing shows the couple sold the Highland Park house on Sept. 12 for $1.35 million. They had put it up for sale last spring.
Kalus, 40, is challenging Democratic Gov. Dan McKee and three independent candidates in the November election, and has so far poured $2.7 million of her own money into her campaign.
Since announcing her candidacy, Kalus has faced persistent questions about her ties to Rhode Island, a state where she acknowledges she never lived before last year. She has countered by noting that her husband attended Brown University’s medical school and insisting they always intended to move to Rhode Island at some point.
Land records show Kalus and Weinzweig purchased a home on Narragansett Avenue in Newport for $770,000 in May 2021, around the same time the couple’s COVID-19 company, Doctors Test Centers, won multimillion-dollar testing and vaccination contracts with Rhode Island. (The company is incorporated under a different name, Primary and Immediate Care Solutions LLC.)
Doctors Test Centers initially only listed Weinzweig as its manager when the company registered with the state in April 2021, then amended the document to add Kalus three months later, according to records filed with the Rhode Island secretary of state’s office.
The amended document listed Kalus’s address as the house in Newport, while Weinzweig’s was listed as the business address of JW Plastic Surgery, his medical practice in Chicago. (A message at the top of JW Plastic Surgery’s website currently says: “Not accepting new patients until 2023.”)
Doctors Test Centers paid Kalus between $500,001 and $1 million last year for serving as a consultant, according to her state ethics disclosure. (The form only requires dollar amounts to be reported in broad ranges.) Her husband is listed as the company’s medical director.
Kalus and Weinzweig also own a home in the Florida Keys that they bought in 2015 and which is currently valued by Zillow at $3.4 million. The local assessor’s office there confirmed the couple is not receiving a homestead exemption on that property.
Kalus voted in Florida in the 2020 general election, but registered to vote in Rhode Island early this year.
Kalus has said she was born in San Diego but moved during middle school to Massachusetts, where she lived on the South Shore with her single mother after her parents divorced. She went on to attend University of Massachusetts Amherst, the London School of Economics and Columbia University.
Christina Amestoy, a spokesperson for the Democratic Governors Association, criticized Kalus over the revelation on Thursday.
“Ashley Kalus claims she’s a true Rhode Islander until it comes to giving up her tax break in Illinois,” Amestoy said in a statement. “Kalus is just another lying politician, and Rhode Islanders will see right through her facade.”
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook