New York GOP House candidate has history of late property tax payments

New York Republican House candidate Elise Stefanik has a history of late property taxes on a Capitol Hill townhouse she owns with a number of others, racking up over $4,000 in penalties and interest on the home.

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A review of public Washington, D.C. tax documents shows that taxes on the property at 610 Independence Ave. SE, which was acquired by EMS DC Properties in August of 2010, have been paid late in 2011, 2012 and the latter half of 2013, accruing a total $4,316.71 in interest and penalties.

Stefanik lists the property as a “residential rental property” owned by EMS DC Properties on her Personal Financial Disclosure forms, and values her stake in the townhouse between $250,000 and $500,000.

The property was assessed as worth nearly $1.3 million in 2014, and its proposed 2015 value tops that sum.

Stefanik told The Hill that she had just a minority stake in the property, and that there were no current outstanding tax issues.

"As disclosed last August on Personal Financial Disclosure forms when I first announced my candidacy for Congress, I own a minority portion of an investment property. I followed the letter of the law when filing all documents pertaining to her Congressional announcement," she said.
 
She added: "All taxes on the property are current and were paid according to the terms outlined by the DC Tax Office, including any minor interest accrued since the property's purchase in 2010."

Stefanik's campaign, however, couldn’t provide further details on the current use of the property, an explanation for the late taxes or how many others have a stake in the property along with Stefanik.

The townhouse has been used reportedly at least once to host a high-powered GOP fundraiser. Politico reported in 2011 that Stefanik hosted a fundraiser there that September to help retire the presidential campaign debt of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, for whom she worked as policy director.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other Republican lawmakers attended the event, and Stefanik “used her Italian mom’s recipes and made all the food, including bruscetta, mozzarella and tomatoes.”

Stefanik is facing off against businessman and three-time candidate Matt Doheny in the Republican primary for a shot at retiring Rep. Bill Owens’ (D-N.Y.) open seat, which became more favorable for the GOP with his exit. Democrats are running Aaron Woolf, a documentary filmmaker and political unknown, in the race.

The former George W. Bush official, who worked on both Pawlenty’s and Romney’s campaigns, has both conservative and establishment support, nabbing the endorsements of both the New York State Conservative Party and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), among others.

Stefanik and Doheny have both touted their business acumen on the campaign trail, with Stefanik playing up her ties to her family’s plywood company, one of the biggest such companies in upstate New York.

But the tax issues may raise questions about her claim to the pro-business mantle, and complicate her campaign-trail focus on tax reform.

And while Stefanik has emphasized her ties to the district and her commitment to upstate New York values, Democrats will be eager to use her partial ownership of a Capitol Hill townhouse valued at nearly $1.3 million, which was initially purchased when Stefanik was just 26, to try to undermine that claim.

—This piece was updated at 6 p.m. to reflect comment from Stefanik.