PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Ashley Kalus signed a mortgage document in February attesting that the house she owns in Newport is a second home rather than her primary residence, Target 12 has learned.
Newport land records show Kalus signed the “Second Home Rider” on Feb. 25, as part of paperwork that she and her husband, Jeffrey Weinzweig, filed when they took out a $615,000 mortgage on the Newport house. They had bought the property the prior year for $770,000.
The document further complicates the issue of Kalus’s ties to Rhode Island, a topic that has dogged her from the start of her campaign. She lived in Illinois and Florida prior to buying the house in Newport and cast her vote in the 2020 election from her Florida address, before registering to vote in Rhode Island early this year.
Matt Hanrahan, a spokesperson for Kalus, indicated she plans to withdraw the second-home document, but insisted the matter is a distraction from the big issues in the gubernatorial race.
“Are we seriously talking about a rider right now?” Hanrahan told Target 12 in response to questions.
“Rhode Islanders are getting crushed, and Dan McKee has no plan to lead us forward,” he said. “It’s no secret Ashley used to have a house in Illinois, which was sold. Jeff now lives full-time in Newport and the rider is being removed.”
Kalus’s husband attended medical school at Brown University and lived in Rhode Island before their marriage. But Kalus has acknowledged she herself didn’t move to the state until last year, when the McKee administration awarded her company — Doctors Test Centers — a COVID-19 testing contract.
The Kalus campaign says her husband continued living at their house outside Chicago managing his plastic-surgery practice while she was living in Rhode Island campaigning; they sold the Illinois house on Sept. 12. The couple received a homestead exemption on that house as recently as last year.
The other home owned by Kalus and her husband is in the Florida Keys, purchased in 2015 and currently valued by Zillow at $3.4 million. (McKee has his own second home in Florida, a condominium that he and his wife bought in 2009 which is currently valued at $519,000. McKee’s Florida residence is located about four-and-a-half hours north of Kalus’s on the eastern coast.)
Brexton Isaacs, McKee’s campaign manager, argued that the Newport mortgage document “raises critically important questions for voters.”
“The fact is that just weeks after first registering to vote in Rhode Island and days after filing paperwork to run for governor in her new state, Ashley Kalus showed her hand when she officially declared that her Rhode Island property isn’t her primary residence,” Isaacs said in a statement.
Isaacs also cited a radio interview earlier this month during which Kalus said she and her husband “hope to make our home here,” arguing that she “won’t even commit to making [Rhode Island] her home, past this election.”
“The bottom line — you can’t lead a state you don’t know, and Ashley Kalus doesn’t know Rhode Island,” he said.
Hanrahan fired back: “This is yet another pathetic attempt by Dan McKee to distract voters from the FBI investigation into his administration, his handing out of $60 million in corporate welfare to the Pawtucket soccer stadium, the $40 million for the Superman building, the $60,000 raises for his staff, and his failure to protect Rhode Islanders from a 47% electricity rate hike.”
McKee and Kalus are scheduled to meet for their first televised debate live on WPRI 12 on Oct. 11.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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