Carl Paladino, who says he’ll be “a voice for the people” in Congress, waited until the Friday before election day to tell voters how rich he is.
Spoiler alert: He’s very rich.
Paladino’s income was at least $4.5 million last year, according to a personal financial disclosure he filed last Friday with the U.S. House Ethics Committee. The outer limit of his income was seven times greater. In addition, he listed assets worth as much as $86 million.
The Republican real-estate developer was a month late in filing the disclosure statement, required of all candidates running for federal office. When pressed on the issue by his opponent, New York State Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy, Paladino explained his finances were “complicated.”
And, while Paladino’s disclosure form sheds some light on his personal finances, the lax filing requirements leave a lot of guesswork.
Federal financial disclosure forms ask candidates to describe assets and income within broad value ranges. A piece of real estate or a stake in an investment fund might be valued between $500,000 and $1 million, for example, or between $5 million and $25 million.
Under assets, Paladino listed his stake in 72 properties, plus various investments in stocks and bonds, which he valued between $23 million and $86 million.
Most of the properties are in and around Buffalo, but he also listed commercial buildings elsewhere in the state, including Syracuse, Rochester, Palmyra, Geneva, Rotterdam, Olean, and Ellicottville. There are also Pennsylvania properties— in Pittsburgh, Erie, Ridgeway, Mercer, Midway, Port Alleghany, Waynesburg, and Ashland.
Last year those assets generated between $4.2 million and $30 million in personal “unearned income” — e.g. rents, dividends, interest — according to the developer’s filing.
In the “earned income” category, Paladino listed a salary of $50,800 from the Ellicott Square Court Corp., which is at the center of the developer’s holdings. On top of that, he brought in $216,020 in payments for legal work — the developer is also a practicing lawyer with a small, in-house law firm — plus $19,167 in real estate commissions.
The disclosure listed liabilities between $2.5 million and $11 million. Most of that comprises debts owed by one Paladino affiliate company to another, the rest a line of credit with M&T Bank.
Paladino listed himself as a manager of 32 corporate entities, president/director of eight, director of four, a trustee of another, an advisor to yet another, and chairman of Ellicott Square Court Corp., which for the past several years has been run mostly by Paladino’s son, William.
If Paladino’s current net worth is $86 million, as his new disclosure indicates, and if he’s elected in November, that would make him the seventh-richest member of Congress. He’d be just ahead of U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and behind U.S. Sen Mark Warner, D-Virginia, according to Business Insider’s latest ranking.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, currently ranks 14th.
The date on Paladino’s financial disclosure form is Friday, August 19. It became available to view online Monday, August 22, the day before the primary.
Langworthy, whose career in Republican politics has been fueled with Paladino’s money for more than a decade, criticized the developer’s failure to file a financial disclosure at least 30 days before primary day, as required for federal election law. Langworthy filed his on July 6.
In the final week of the campaign, likely voters in the district received a text message describing Paladino as “a pay-to-play millionaire” who funded Democrats. The text said Paladino didn’t want GOP primary voters to see, for example, that he’d profited “by renting to the abortion clinic in Niagara Falls.”
Paladino told The Buffalo News he’d been given an extension by the House Ethics Committee, which collects the disclosures.
The House Ethics Committee allows candidates and House members to file requests for extensions, and those requests are published online along with disclosures in a searchable database. There is no extension request from the Paladino campaign published online.
Langworthy said he was paid $150,000 last year as chair of the state GOP. He did not list any income for his wife, Erin Baker Langworthy, though she was employed part-time in 2021 by the state Assembly minority leader’s office at a salary of $34,503, according to state records. She also is listed as self-employed by Liberty Strategies, Langworthy’s political consulting firm, which he said he would shut down when he became chairman.
Paladino had dedicated about $1.5 million of his own money to the race and spent $600,000, as of his campaign committee’s last filing. Langworthy had raised $370,000, spent $230,000, and benefited from about $700,000 in independent expenditures from American Liberty Action PAC, a “dark money” political action committee, funding ads and text campaigns attacking Paladino.
The newly drawn 23rd Congressional District is considered a safe GOP seat by Cook’s Political Report, as Republicans significantly outnumber Democrats on the voter rolls.
Langworthy has the Conservative Party line on the November ballot, unless he chooses to withdraw, creating the possibility he and Paladino could split voters. Attorney Max Della Pia of Owego, a retired Air Force colonel and chair of the Tioga County Democratic Committee, will appear on the Democratic Party line.