April 23, 2024
Finance

In Race to Replace George Santos, Financial Questions Re-emerge


The Republican nominee in a special House election to replace George Santos in New York provided a hazy glimpse into her personal finances this week, submitting a sworn financial statement to Congress that prompted questions and led her to amend the filing.

The little-known candidate, Mazi Pilip, reported between $1 million and $5.2 million in assets, largely comprising her husband’s medical practice and Bitcoin investments. In an unusual disclosure, she said the couple owed and later repaid as much as $250,000 to the I.R.S. last year.

But the initial financial report Ms. Pilip filed with the House Ethics Committee on Wednesday appeared to be missing other important required information, including whether the assets were owned solely by herself or her husband, Dr. Adalbert Pilip, or whether they were owned jointly.

And despite making past statements that she stopped working there in 2021 when she ran for the Nassau County Legislature, Ms. Pilip reported receiving a $50,000 salary from the family medical practice in 2022 and 2023.

The inconsistencies seemed nowhere near the level of Mr. Santos’s widespread misstatements, which prompted federal prosecutors to charge him with falsifying congressional records before he was expelled. But after inquiries from The New York Times, Ms. Pilip materially amended the statement on Friday.

The updated paperwork disclosed for the first time that she had a legislative pension; identified her husband as the sole owner of the medical practice, New York Comprehensive Medical Care; and disclosed previously unreported investments and liabilities, including at least $50,000 in medical school loans for Dr. Pilip.

Ms. Pilip also revised her earned income, reporting that she had earned far less from the medical practice: $13,472 in 2022 and nothing in 2023. (She earned $80,000 as a local lawmaker.)

Her campaign played down the initial omissions as innocent mistakes by a team working on an abbreviated schedule before next month’s special election.

Brian Devine, a spokesman for her campaign, said on Saturday that the first report was “a preliminary draft that was inadvertently submitted prior to final review by Mazi’s financial team.”

Ethics experts said the changes warranted further study. All House candidates must file disclosure forms annually, attesting that the information is “true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief” at risk of prosecution.

“The canary in the mine can be discrepancies on their financial disclosure statements,” said Kedric Payne, the senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center.

Ms. Pilip’s Democratic opponent, Tom Suozzi, filed his own report on Friday showing more than $600,000 in income in 2023 as a consultant and a board member of Global Industrial Corp., a Long Island-based industrial supply company.

Mr. Suozzi also earned $35,000 from Hercules Pharmaceuticals, a Long Island-based drug wholesaler.

He disclosed assets worth between $4.2 million and $6.3 million, much of them tied up in real estate investments. Mr. Suozzi also owns interest in summer camps owned by Jay Jacobs, the New York Democratic Party chairman, that paid dividends worth between $100,000 and $1 million. (The House disclosure forms ask filers to disclose assets in ranges, making it difficult to determine exact values.)

Unlike Mr. Suozzi, a former congressman and county executive, Ms. Pilip is relatively unknown in the Queens and Nassau County swing district. Born in Ethiopia, she was a refugee in Israel before moving to the United States and winning a seat in the Nassau County Legislature in 2021.

Most of Ms. Pilip’s wealth appears to be tied up in her husband’s medical ventures, which paid the couple between $100,000 and $1 million in dividends last year. She has said she worked as the operations manager in his primary practice before entering politics.

In copies of 2022 and 2023 financial disclosure forms submitted to the Nassau County Board of Ethics and obtained by The Times, Ms. Pilip provided some information that did not match her federal disclosure.

Ms. Pilip reported working for her husband’s practice both years, describing her role primarily as marketing in 2022 and administrative in 2023. Salary information was redacted.

The Nassau forms show several investments that Ms. Pilip did not disclose on her congressional filing, including Dr. Pilip’s ownership of Infuse Chi Inc., described as a “start up health drink company”; an entity called Medsched; and Pilip Medical Treatments, a “medical treatment facility.”

Mr. Devine said the companies were not included in the congressional report because they “have not taken off and have no value.”

Ms. Pilip did report liabilities owed to the I.R.S. on both the 2022 and 2023 local financial forms. The amounts were redacted; on the House forms, she reported that the couple owed between $100,000 and $250,000 in 2023.

House candidates are not required to report tax liabilities. Mr. Devine said the couple had paid what they owed to the I.R.S. but voluntarily reported it out of “an abundance of transparency.”

“They are on a quarterly schedule for estimated tax payments,” he said, explaining the liability. “Their earnings were beyond anticipated amounts, requiring them to make additional payments, which they have done.”

Public records do not reveal tax liens for Ms. Pilip or her husband matching the liability.



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