The lack of disclosure makes Colvin “unfit to hold any elected office, let alone as a Member of Congress,” Mendelsohn wrote in the complaint.
The district, whose boundaries were redrawn after the 2010 Census, is largely considered a safe Republican seat. But Colvin has amassed a large volunteer corps and bipartisan endorsements, tapping into frustration with Harris’s rhetoric and support for President Trump. He raised more than three times as much money as Harris this summer, eclipsing the congressman’s overall fundraising.
Colvin spokesman Sam Schneider called the ethics complaint, first reported by the blog RedMaryland.com, a “nothing burger,” saying federal guidelines allow for exemptions of spousal assets from disclosure forms if they meet certain criteria.
“This is a baseless ploy by a career politician trying to distract from the real issues at hand,” Schneider said in a statement. “People should see it for what it is — a false accusation and a red herring.”
Harris said he is “concerned” about Colvin’s integrity in light of the allegations but is focused on talking about his own record in Congress. “I will leave it to the appropriate government agencies that conduct investigations into such matter to determine what infractions have been made,” Harris said in a statement.
Mendelsohn accused Colvin of failing to disclose that his wife is the co-owner of a $645,000 condominium in the District’s H Street corridor that could be generating thousands of dollars in rental income. Jordan Kaye Colvin, a former D.C. police officer and legislative director for Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), co-owns the condominium with her father.
The complaint says that the condo was listed for rent on Zillow last summer and again this summer and fall, for amounts ranging from $3,200 to $4,100 a month, and that public records show someone other than the Colvins living there for part of 2017 and 2018.
Schneider said Jordan Colvin used the rental income to pay the monthly mortgage of $3,931 and lost money overall on the condo in 2017 and 2018.
Jesse Colvin does not own the condo, has not put any of his income into it and did not expect to derive any income from it when he filed his forms, Schneider said.
He said Colvin mistakenly checked no in answer to a question about whether he had left off any exempted property belonging to a spouse and would resubmit the disclosure forms with the yes box checked. Schneider said Colvin was acting on the advice of the campaign’s accounting firm, Caldwell & Cos., whose CEO said in a statement that the “initial guidance was incorrect and we are working with Jesse to correct the error and amend the report.”
Although neither the Colvins nor Jordan Colvin’s father claims the condo as a primary residence, D.C. property-tax records show that the Kayes receive a homestead-tax exemption, which is supposed to apply only to properties where the owner lives.
Jesse and Jordan Colvin, who now runs a nonprofit organization for veterans, lived together in the condo for several months before they were married in December 2016, Schneider said, and rightfully claimed the exemption when they filed taxes in 2017.
The couple now live in Perry Hall, in Baltimore County, Schneider said, and they do not plan to seek the exemption on their 2018 taxes.
Mendelsohn also accused the Colvins of renting the condo without the required business and occupancy licenses. A search of public databases for those licenses did not reveal either of their names.
Because the Office of Congressional Ethics has jurisdiction over current members of Congress, not candidates, no federal investigation will be triggered by the information Mendelsohn submitted, officials said.
A complaint of this nature would probably fall to the House Ethics Committee, which manages financial disclosures. Mendelsohn said he plans to send the documents to the committee.