Is Carl Paladino the Tea Baggers' Biggest Hypocrite Yet?
Mr. Paladino, 63, delivered a Palinesque populist message to a boisterous group of about 1,000 flag-waving supporters here, denouncing what he said was the government’s deepening encroachment into the lives of ordinary Americans. “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Mr. Paladino told a roaring crowd that had gathered at the Ellicott Square Building in downtown Buffalo, one of several office complexes in his commercial real estate empire in western New York. “The government is in shambles, and we’re paying for it in unbearable taxes far, far above the national average,” he added. “Are you mad? Are you gonna take it anymore?”And then last night:
"Tonight the ruling class knows, they've seen it now. They not only know it but they've seen it. There's a people's revolution."
Yes, he's a revolutionary, who simply hates big government and its profligate spending. Real man of the people. But who is Carl Paladino in the real world?
The Buffalo News tells us -- he's a member of the "ruling elite" in a very big way:
Paladino is state government's biggest landlord in Western New York, holding half of the 52 leases the state has taken out on offices in Erie and Niagara counties, a Buffalo News analysis shows. Albany's rent payments to Paladino this year will total $5.1 million.
His companies will collect another $5 million in rent from the federal and local governments, including his two most lucrative leases that net him $1.7 million for an office that houses some operations of the Erie County Department of Social Services and $1.5 million for FBI offices behind City Hall.
Paladino's business transactions with government don't end with leasing office space, a Buffalo News investigation found.
He owns an estimated 20 properties that have received tax breaks -- including property and sales taxes -- that amounted to at least $12 million since 2003, The News calculated.
Paladino also bought at least two large buildings from the government for next to nothing. A state economic development agency spent about $1 million to buy the former United Office Building in Niagara Falls that it then sold in 2002 to Paladino for $10. Buffalo city officials in 1999 sold him the former L.L. Berger building for $1 and tossed in a parking lot and $385,000 to help repair the building.
Paladino's extensive dealings with government -- coupled with at least $452,000 in political contributions in recent years to scores of politicians -- are in sharp contrast to the rhetoric of his campaign for governor, in which he has railed against government spending and portrayed himself as an outsider dedicated to taking on the ruling elite.
I guess it doesn't matter -- those tea-party suckers will buy absolutely anything that anyone wearing a tri-corner hat will sell them.