A California Republican House hopeful told RedState she uncovered a scheme by Rep. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), who is running for the California Senate seat vacated by the passing of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, where the congressman reported his Maryland home as his primary residence to secure a lower mortgage interest rate—meaning he either lied on a federally-insured loan document or from 2003 to 2021, he was not a resident of his Burbank district.
“I filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee, and I did get an email receipt,” said Christine Bish, who has worked as a real estate professional for two decades and who worked as an in-house investigator at a law firm. “They did receive my submission, and I followed up with them, and they said, once it’s submitted, they cannot give me any updates.”
The congressman, who was first elected to Congress in 2000, purchased with his wife a Potomac, Maryland, home in 2003 for $610,000, claiming on the mortgage paperwork that this home was their principal residence—even as they were presumably both registered to vote in California and he represented California in Congress.
According to Zillow, the house is now worth more than $1.4 million.
Bish said on the second page of the 2003 financing for the Maryland home, there is a section where the mortgage company checks a box to designate the property as a secondary home–and that box is not checked.
Schiff and his wife refinanced the home in 2009, 2010, and 2013; each time, they asserted that the house was their principal residence, she said. “On each one of those mortgages, there’s a clause, Clause 6, that says that you will occupy that home for 12 consecutive months as your primary residence.”
The married mother of four said when the congressman and his wife refinanced in 2020, they rebooted their residency and, with that mortgage, designated the Potomac house as their secondary residence.
Both of the congressman’s children grew up in Maryland. His daughter was a varsity cheerleader at Winston Churchill High School, and she graduated in the Class of 2016. His son also attended Churchill and is a member of the Class of 2021, who competed on the track and field team shot put.
Bish, running to unseat Democrat Rep. Ami Bera to represent the state’s 6th Congressional District, said she has had a curiosity about Schiff’s mortgages going back to 2009 when Taxpayers for Common Sense filed a complaint charging the California congressman with being a resident of Maryland.
Then, the congressman’s staff played it off as a paperwork error, the Antelope, California resident said.
With Schiff running to fill the Feinstein vacancy, Bish said she decided to see for herself what it was all about.
“I started pulling all of the mortgage documents, and I went back on Adam Schiff,” Bish said. “I went back on him until 2003. That’s when he bought the house in Maryland.”
The real estate professional said it always seemed odd to her that Schiff could have accidentally claimed a home as his primary residence.
“I know how title works,” she said.
“I started pulling all of the mortgages and I went: ‘Holy crap. This guy’s committed mortgage fraud,” she said. “You can’t say that you live in one place to get a cheaper interest rate and then register to vote in California and run in California.”
Bish said Schiff’s legal jeopardy is significant. “It could be prosecuted by the US attorney, or it can be processed done as a state and even at the county level.”
The House hopeful said there was no way the mortgage companies did not know who Schiff was or that he was a congressman from California.
“When you look at the recorded documents, they hand-wrote ‘principal residence’ on the front page, and that’s recorded on another one of his loans,” she said. “They had him sign a separate rider swearing that his principal residence, his primary residence, was in Maryland.”
The Constitution’s Article I, Section 2, Clause 2 requires candidates for the House of Representatives to be inhabitants of the state they represent.
Bish said it is a violation of California law.
“Under California election code, actually under everybody’s election code, your primary residence is the place that you intend to live,” she said. “It’s where you’re going to return to, so I actually pulled up the California election code if he claims his primary residence is in Maryland, and he cannot be registered to vote and vote here.”
A similar case, which did not involve mortgage fraud, involved Rep. Steven Watkins (R.-Kan.), who used the address of a rented commercial mailbox when he registered to vote in a local election. In Watkins’s situation, the Shawnee County district attorney prosecuted him for three felonies in a case resolved with a diversion agreement.
Bish said Schiff’s wife, Eve, could also be in trouble if she registered to vote in California.
“Adam Schiff and his wife Eve both signed those documents under penalty of perjury saying that that was their principal residence, their primary residence,” she said.
“They’ve got them on perjury unless he wants to say he lied on the voter registration and his declarations to run for office in California where he claimed this was his primary residence,” she said.
“You can have as many houses as you can afford,” she said. “You can live anywhere you want. Had Adam Schiff, every time he refinanced that house in Maryland, or when he bought that house in Maryland, had he simply said it was a second home, this would be a non-issue.”
The Los Angeles native said it is significant that someone wrote in pen ink “Principal Residence” on the front page of the Schiffs’ 2009 refinancing.
“Actually, the lenders can get in trouble for this, and so can the mortgage company,” she said.
“That’s why they wrote “Principal Residence” in pen—that wasn’t me—that was on the reported documents,” she said.
“I know from the industry what they were doing. They did it deliberately to make a point so that they would not get in trouble.”