How wealthy are they?

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Ken Dixon

There’s rich and then there’s re­ally rich. But in the gov­er­nor’s race it’s hard to tell.

Demo­crat Ned La­mont and Repub­li­can Bob Ste­fanowski have, so far, de­clined to re­lease their in­come tax re­turns, though both have promised to make sum­maries of their tax fil­ings pub­lic. In Con­necti­cut, how­ever, where the tax col­lec­tor keeps tabs on per­sonal prop­erty, a pic­ture of wealth can emerge from the things a can­di­date owns.

For Ste­fanowski, there’s the $3 mil­lion man­sion hid­den be­hind the big trees along the busy Bos­ton Post Road in Madi­son. Then there are the Ste­fanowskis’ two beach­side houses nearby, worth a com­bined $2.3 mil­lion.

Around the cor­ner from the beach, on a small ti­dal in­let off Neck Road, is a pri­vate dock pur­chased for $85,000 three years ago.

That was around the time the fam­ily sold its $2 mil­lion man­sion in Florida.

For La­mont, home is a $7 mil­lion, 8,300-square-foot colo­nial be­hind bushy ev­er­greens and a high, deer­proof fence on a se­cluded, pri­vate cul de sac in mid-coun­try Green­wich. La­mont’s eight bath­rooms be­came a point of con­tention dur­ing the pri­mary. The ad­join­ing twoacre, $1.6 mil­lion par­cel, was added for pri­vacy. A few miles away, along Long Is­land Sound, a slick 22-foot Mako power boat is docked.

Ste­fanowski’s could be called “up­per-man­age­ment wealth.” In­dus­try analy­ses sug­gest he earned an es­ti­mated $2 mil­lion-plus a year and mil­lions in stock op­tions as a di­vi­sion-level cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tive dur­ing much of his ca­reer, be­fore ris­ing to a CEO po­si­tion at a pay­day loan com­pany, Dol­lar Fi­nan­cial Group, in Lon­don.

His wife, Amy Ste­fanowski, is a Re­al­tor who has rented at least one

of the shore­line houses, on the pri­vate Sound­view Av­enue, for up to $5,000 a week in the sum­mer.

La­mont’s in­her­ited wealth and in­vest­ment in­come — go­ing back more than 100 years to his great­grand­fa­ther Thomas W. La­mont, a top New York banker — is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent level of money. When he ran for U.S. Se­nate in 2006, he es­ti­mated his wealth at be­tween $90 mil­lion and $300 mil­lion. His wife, An­nie La­mont, is an ex­ec­u­tive with a multi-bil­lion-dol­lar ven­ture-cap­i­tal and pri­vate-eq­uity firm who as re­cently as 2014 was listed by Forbes mag­a­zine as one of the na­tion’s top tech in­vestors.

Pock­ets, deep and oth­er­wise

What the two fam­i­lies have in com­mon, be­sides three chil­dren and the goal of be­com­ing gov­er­nor of Con­necti­cut, are Mini Cooper au­tos in their garages. Ste­fanowski also owns a 2013 Audi A8 and a 2009 Ford Ranger pickup. La­mont also owns a 2006 Lexus RX 400 and 2017 Tesla X.

It’s clear that La­mont, who spent $20 mil­lion on his win­ning 2006

U.S. Se­nate pri­mary and los­ing gen­eral elec­tion race against U.S. Sen. Joe Lieber­man, has fewer fi­nan­cial con­cerns than Ste­fanowski.

The Repub­li­can gave a $2.2 mil­lion loan to his cam­paign for gov­er­nor. Amy Ste­fanowski re­cently emailed pleas to po­ten­tial GOP con­trib­u­tors, warn­ing if they couldn’t raise $10,000 quickly, one of her hus­band’s TV ads would have to be pulled.

Be­tween 2007 and 2015, the Ste­fanowskis owned a se­cluded sea­side home on the north side of Key Largo, Fla., that sold for about $2 mil­lion, around the time the Ste­fanowskis bought the 5,142-square-foot place on the Bos­ton Post Road, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal land records.

The Demo­crat, a ca­ble TV pi­o­neer who started out wiring col­lege cam­puses, is pri­mar­ily a tech in­vestor through his La­mont Dig­i­tal Sys­tems, Inc. He has in­vested about $3 mil­lion in his third statewide cam­paign, with no claim in re­coup­ing the in­vest­ment. Last year, he helped wran­gle the In­dia-based In­fosys in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pany, into com­mit­ting to a Hart­ford

op­er­a­tion.

Ron­ald Schurin, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut, said wealthy po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates are part of the state’s new po­lit­i­cal land­scape.

Griebel showed in­come, taxes

“The fact that Ste­fanowski is rich and La­mont is su­per rich is the norm,” said Schurin, not­ing La­mont is the first Demo­cratic can­di­date since pub­lic fi­nanc­ing kicked in dur­ing the 2010 gov­er­nor cy­cle, to es­chew the vol­un­tary pro­gram, which lim­its can­di­dates to about $8 mil­lion dur­ing an elec­tion cy­cle.

“There’s noth­ing new or star­tling about this,” Schurin said. “What this says is that th­ese are peo­ple who have the free time, free from the pres­sures of mak­ing a daily liv­ing, to get into pol­i­tics at that level.”

Unaf­fil­i­ated can­di­date for gov­er­nor Oz Griebel, a former banker and re­gional busi­ness leader who has an apart­ment in Hart­ford, re­leased the top sheets of his in­come-tax forms this week.

He paid the IRS more than $93,000 a year in taxes over the last

three years on in­come of about $400,000. He has been giv­ing the state about $25,000 a year in taxes.

“Peo­ple are en­ti­tled to this,” Griebel said. “Peo­ple are en­ti­tled to un­der­stand trans­parency. The vot­ers in this state are en­ti­tled to it.”

Pre­vi­ous can­di­dates for gov­er­nor have re­leased their tax in­for­ma­tion. When Repub­li­can busi­ness­man Tom Fo­ley, of Green­wich, ran for gov­er­nor against Dan­nel P. Malloy in 2014, he al­lowed re­porters to view three years of his fed­eral tax sum­maries. Malloy re­leased four years of his par­tial fed­eral and state tax re­turns.

This year’s mil­lion­aire-ver­sus­mil­lion­aire con­test could sig­nal the end for mid­dle-in­come peo­ple, such as Malloy and his im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sors, in­clud­ing M. Jodi Rell and John G. Row­land, from get­ting a shot at the state’s top job.

“Of course, it would have been bet­ter for Row­land if he had some wealth,” Schurin noted. In 2004, Row­land re­signed in the mid­dle of his third four-year term, and pleaded guilty to fed­eral cor­rup­tion charges.

Ken Dixon / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

A beach house in Madi­son owned by Repub­li­can Bob Ste­fanowski

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