Brooklyn state senator Julia Salazar, a Democratic socialist who has presented herself as a champion of the working class, was living off a large trust fund during her campaign for state office, according to a Thursday New York Post report.
New financial disclosure forms obtained by the Post showed the trust was worth more than $10 million, although Salazar, 28, has now claimed that number was in error. Instead, the New York Democrat says the trust she dipped into during her campaign is worth about $400,000.
Salazar reported the trust to the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethic in a signed financial disclosure on May 15, indicating she received $18,000 from her deceased father’s trust. In the handwritten disclosure she valued the trust fund at more than $10 million, classifying it as “Category DDDDD,” a code used in campaign finance documents to indicate amounts of “$10 million or more.”
Asked about the large fund on Thursday, Salazar said she meant to write “Category D,” the code for amounts ranging from $5,000-$20,000.
Salazar told the New York Post that she misread the category guidance sheet provided by JCOPE.
“I looked at it in a cursory way,” she told the New York Post. “I mistook the comma versus the decimal point, so it added it extra zeros.”
Salazar claimed she needed to dip into the fund to support herself while running for office.
“The $18,000 was used to support myself, because I had to stop working in order to campaign, and I had to go on unpaid leave,” she said. “Basically seven months of living expenses on top of savings that I had from working.”
Since Salazar does not control the fund, she actually isn’t required to state its value on JCOPE disclosures. Nevertheless, the New York lawmaker told the Post the fund currently holds less than $400,000 and was put together using a combination of her late father’s retirement savings, life insurance policy, and real estate sales earnings.
In 2011, court records pegged the value of the fund at more than $600,000.
The fund, which benefits Salazar, her brother, and other family members, is controlled by her aunt in Columbia, according to Salazar.
She resubmitted the financial disclosure forms on July 11 after a state worker flagged the inconsistencies to her, this time correctly marking the income from the trust as “Category D.”
Salazar reacted to the Post’s story on Friday in a series of tweets, in which she said she had “cleared up any ambiguity about a ‘trust fund’ last year” and that the trust fund was formed through proceeds made from selling her deceased father’s home.
The proceeds from selling my dead father’s home were put into a trust fund, which my father’s sister became the manager of.
The total value of that trust fund was hundreds of thousands of $. MUCH less than a million. It’s value is lower today. It was shared among family members.
— Julia Salazar (@JuliaCarmel__) July 19, 2019
“Nobody in my entire family is a millionaire. I do not own property,” she tweeted. “I have debt. Last year my annual salary was less than $50,000, because I had to take an unpaid leave from my job at a nonprofit in June order to run for office, and received $18,000 from my dead dad’s trust.”
Julia Salazar trust fund yet another inconsistency in the lawmaker’s story
Salazar, is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist who has been endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She initially received fawning media coverage due to her similarities to Ocasio-Cortez and for her background as a progressive working-class immigrant from a Jewish family with an Ivy League education.
But later reports uncovered alleged inconsistencies with regard to her personal narrative. Salazar’s attempts to portray herself as a working-class immigrant came under scrutiny, especially after her own family members appeared to contradict some of her claims.
Salazar’s assertions that her family split time between the U.S. and Columbia, and that her earliest childhood memories were from Columbia, were rebutted by her brother, Alex.
“We weren’t an immigrant family,” Alex told the New York Times last year, noting he only remembers a pair of short trips to Columbia as a child. “It was never something that was even considered.”
— pplswar (@pplswar) August 31, 2018
He also disputed his sister’s account of their family’s financial situation, saying the Salazars were “certainly middle class, or upper middle class,” while growing up in a comfortable community in Jupiter, FL.
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- New York Democratic State Sen. Julia Salazar and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.: Screen grab