Dance organizer, registered Democrat, forwarder of bestiality emails, father of a love child—the Republican candidate for New York governor has many sides. Learn more from The Daily Beast’s Paladino cheat sheet. Plus, Crazy Carl's Adviser Runs Away
He Insulted His Wife at Their First Meeting
Things didn’t go smoothly during Paladino’s initial encounter with his future wife, Mary Catherine Hannon. The pair met at an event Paladino had planned, and he made a joke about her uncle back in Buffalo whose indictment had made waves in the local newspapers, according to The New York Times. Hannon responded by throwing a beer at him. “It wasn’t nice,” Paladino told The New York Times of his remark, calling it an early lesson about keeping “my big mouth shut.”
He Organized ROTC Balls in College
Paladino’s strict father sent him to tiny St. Bonaventure University, a Catholic school just south of Buffalo, and he was not enticed by all the ‘60s revelry on campus. According to The New York Times, Paladino was an “admitted square” who organized events like military balls for his fellow ROTC members and played lots of chess. “We really didn’t get with that hippie program,” he told the newspaper. “We had our heads shaved close, and we had a war going on.”
He Likens Himself to General Patton
Paladino often refers to his 10-year military career—he retired as a captain—on the campaign trail, even likening himself to General Patton. However, Paladino was no Patton: The politician trained troops at New Jersey’s Fort Dix in personal hygiene and served brief stints on active duty at Fort Bliss, Texas, and in the 98th Division reserve unit based in Rochester. “So the sum total of Paladino's military experience is a few months of active duty and nine years as a weekend warrior in upstate New York,” wrote The Huffington Post’s Dan Collins.
He Founded His Real-Estate Empire With His Stepfather’s Building
Paladino’s father-in-law, Dan Hannon, was a real-estate agent who had a rocky relationship with the IRS, which “imposed heavy assessments and garnished his earnings for several years,” the Times reports. The financial pressure proved too much for Hannon, who died of a stroke in 1970. Paladino took over Hannon’s management of the Ellicott Square Building in Buffalo and eventually organized an ownership group to purchase the building. “He had a $500 line of credit on his MasterCharge, two children, an old Mustang and, now, perhaps the most famous building in Buffalo,” the Times reports. He eventually built a real-estate empire valued at $500 million, with a personal net worth of more than $150 million.
He Was a Democrat Until 2005
While his wife, Cathy, is, according to the New York Daily News, a registered Democrat who couldn’t vote for her husband in the GOP primary, the hyper-conservative Tea Partier has his own history with the Democrats. Paladino registered with the Democratic Party in 1974 and remained a member until 2005, when he switched to the Republican Party, according to Crain’s New York.
He’s Against State Spending… Unless It’s on Him
On his website, Paladino for the People, he says, “First, to stop the bleeding right away, I will implement a broad cap on state spending and freeze hiring. Andrew Cuomo says he wants to slow state spending—in human language—he wants to increase spending. I want to cut it.” But Paladino also holds $85.3 million in what he says are 27 current real-estate contracts with the state, according to the Buffalo News, making him the state’s biggest landlord in Buffalo.
He’s a Forwarder of Racist, Obscene Emails
Back in April, Paladino was accused of forwarding a string of racist and pornographic emails to colleagues. The website WNY Media claims to have all of the emails, which include one with the subject “Obama Inauguration Rehearsal” and links to a video clip showing African tribesmen dancing in a village. He also allegedly forwarded emails containing Barack and Michelle Obama dressed as a pimp and prostitute, and several sex videos, including a woman engaging in bestiality with a horse. He eventually apologized for the emails, saying, “To any of the ladies I’ve offended, I apologize. I say this to the men out there who have never opened a graphic image on the Internet: Don’t vote for me. For those who have, I welcome your vote.”
He’s Donated to Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Al Gore
As a Tea Partier, Paladino often inveighs against liberal politicians. He’s run an attack ad that begins, “New Yorkers pay the highest taxes, we get the wildest liberal spending, but we are still losing jobs.” But Paladino has made sizable contributions to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and Al Gore, according to the Buffalo News. In 2008, he donated the maximum $14,600 to the McCain/Palin presidential campaign, but also hedged by donating $4,600 to Clinton’s presidential run, according to campaign records. He even donated $17,900 to former Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer, according to AllBusiness.com.
He Predicted the Health-Care Bill Would Kill More People Than 9/11
Addressing President Obama’s health-care reform bill, Paladino told AM-790 radio host Curtis Sliwa that “the day that bill was passed will be remembered just as 9/11 was remembered in history. It was an attempt by these people in Washington to defy the Constitution.” He later elaborated, “Obamacare will be so horrific that it will kill more Americans through deteriorating health care than were lost on 9/11.” Families of 9/11 victims reacted with outrage.
He Has a Love Child
Paladino’s allegations that his gubernatorial opponent, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, was unfaithful to his now ex-wife, just brought more attention to Paladino’s own marital indiscretions. Although Paladino has been married to his wife for nearly 40 years, he fathered a secret child with Sue Brady, an ex-staffer of his Ellicott Development Company, reported the New York Daily News. Paladino told his children about his other daughter but long concealed the information from his wife, and it wasn’t until his son, Patrick—who was particularly close to the daughter—died in a car accident that Paladino finally told his wife. She has forgiven him, she says.
Correction: This article misstated Dan Hannon as Paladino's stepfather.
Marlow Stern works for The Daily Beast and holds a master's from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He has served in the editorial department of Blender, as an editor at Amplifier, and, since 2007, editor of Manhattan Movie Magazine.