ICYMI: Eric Hovde Tries to Hide His Out of State Ties; Gets Called Out for Only Moving to Wisconsin When He Wants to Run for Office

Feb 20, 2024

ICYMI: Eric Hovde Tries to Hide His Out of State Ties; Gets Called Out for Only Moving to Wisconsin When He Wants to Run for Office

MADISON, Wis. — As California bank owner Eric Hovde enters the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin, new reporting from Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel detailed how Hovde tried to hide his out-of-state property and the fact that he only comes to Wisconsin when he wants to try to buy a Senate seat.

Read more below:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bice: Eric Hovde transferred $2.3 million D.C. house to his brother in August
By Dan Bice

  • Madison multimillionaire Eric Hovde had a few things he had to get done before jumping in the race against Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
  • 1. Get his business affairs in order. 2. Hire a campaign team. 3. Dump his house in Washington, D.C.
  • Real estate records show that Hovde, 59, and his wife, Sharon, transferred ownership of a $2.3 million home on the northwest side of the nation’s capital to a trust headed by Hovde’s brother and longtime business partner Steven Hovde in August.
  • A spokesman for Eric Hovde, a Republican, said the beneficiaries of the trust are his two daughters. Hovde and his wife had purchased the house six years earlier.
  • The move to transfer the property came three months after the Journal Sentinel reported that Hovde and his wife had paid nearly $7 million in 2018 to buy a luxurious hillside estate in Laguna Beach, California — more than three times what Hovde paid for his Madison house on Lake Mendota. Hovde, a banker and real estate mogul, leads financial institutions in Wisconsin and California.
  • Arik Wolk, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said Hovde always seems to be buying and selling properties around the time he is deciding whether to run for U.S. Senate from Wisconsin.
  • “As a California bank owner who’s spent his career living and working out of state, Eric Hovde has a long record of putting the ultra-wealthy, like himself, ahead of middle-class Wisconsinites,” Wolk said.
  • Hovde moved to the Madison area in 2011, shortly before his first Senate bid.
  • Throughout his 2012 campaign, Hovde was dogged by charges that he was a carpetbagger, accused by his opponents of having moved to Wisconsin only so he could win a Senate seat. He dismissed the charge.
  • Between 1987 and 2011, he and his wife resided in Washington, D.C. But in October 2011, the couple paid $1.75 million for a house on Lake Mendota in the village of Shorewood Hills.
  • At the time of the purchase, Hovde — a University of Wisconsin graduate — said a possible political run “was a factor” but only one of many in his decision to return to Wisconsin.
  • In December 2012, just months after losing the Wisconsin primary, Hovde purchased a 10,000-square-foot, Mediterranean-style house in the Kent neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The house had 10 bathrooms, seven bedrooms, four fireplaces, and a detached art studio.
  • Hovde weighed whether to make a second bid for Baldwin’s seat but decided against it in April 2018.
  • Three months later, the government of Nepal bought Hovde’s D.C. house for $6.8 million, making it one of the largest Washington, D.C., real estate transactions in 2018, according to the Washington Post.
  • A month later, Hovde and his wife bought a new D.C. home, paying a little more than $2.3 million for the place on the city’s northwest side. It currently is valued at $2.8 million by Redfin.
  • In May 2022, Eric and Sharon Hovde each set up a separate qualified personal residence trust that owned half the house. These trusts allow the owners to hold onto a piece of property for a certain length of time before turning it over to beneficiaries with reduced gift and estate taxes.
  • Records show that Hovde informed D.C. election officials to take him off the voter rolls on Aug. 14, 2019, because he no longer lived in the city. He has cast his ballot in Wisconsin for years but has a spotty voting record.