Bloomberg News

Booker Discloses 15 Years of Income as He Quits Waywire Startup

September 07, 2013

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, co-founded Waywire, a New York-based company that runs a video-sharing website. Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has earned $3.86 million since 1998, according to disclosures released by his U.S. Senate campaign, and will leave Waywire LLC, his Internet startup, while donating his company shares to charity.

The Democratic U.S. Senate candidate detailed his Waywire stake valued at $1 million to $5 million in a financial report to the city just before the August primary in the special election to serve the remainder of Frank Lautenberg’s term. In June, New Jersey’s senior senator died in office.

While Booker won his party’s nomination, he has faced questions about his wealth, which contrasts with his image of living in a drug-infested neighborhood in the state’s most-populous city. Addisu Demissie, Booker’s campaign manager, said in a statement that the release of tax returns for 15 years was “an historic gesture of transparency,” and called on Steven Lonegan, the Republican nominee, to follow suit.

“What we want to be clear about is that at no point will the mayor derive any economic benefits from his stake” in Waywire, Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for Booker, said in an interview. “We want to remove any lingering doubt that the mayor wouldn’t be focused solely on his duties” as a senator.

Booker co-founded Waywire, a New York-based video-sharing website operator, last year. Griffis said Waywire will hold a board meeting in coming weeks to ratify the mayor’s resignation.

Lonegan Plans

Lonegan, 57, a former mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, released three years of tax returns to the New York Post and plans to make them available to other reporters on Sept. 9, according to Will Gattenby, a spokesman.

Booker paid just over $1 million in taxes from 1998 to 2012, his returns show. His income grew from $40,797 in 1998, when his sole source of earnings came from his position on the Newark City Council, to a high of $715,981 in 2011.

That was the year his public-speaking engagements brought in $406,304, and he received a $150,000 separation payment from his former law firm, Trenk DiPasquale, according to the returns. His compensation from the firm on leaving was spread over several years, and totaled about $690,000 from 2007 to 2012.

“Cory Booker has received massive six-figure payouts following a brief association with a law firm that has received millions of tax dollars from city agency contracts while he has been mayor,” Gattenby said by e-mail. “Mayor Lonegan has built a successful career in the private sector creating real jobs.”

Charitable Giving

Booker reported $149,347 in charitable giving for the 15-year period and a total income of $1.3 million from the speeches.

A Rhodes Scholar and Stanford University and Yale Law School graduate, Booker grew up in the northern New Jersey suburb of Harrington Park. In 1996, he moved to Newark, where 26 percent of residents live in poverty.

Booker won the mayor’s race in 2006 and again in 2010. He gained national attention last year for saving a neighbor from a fire and for living on food stamps for a week to show the difficulty of relying on the government aid. A frequent user of Twitter Inc.’s website, Booker has 1.4 million followers. He spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and helped lead its platform committee.

The mayor faces Lonegan in the Oct. 16 special election. Lautenberg, who died at 89 from complications of viral pneumonia, would have come up for re-election next year.

In an Aug. 29 poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, Booker led Lonegan among registered voters, 50 percent to 22 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton at tdopp@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net


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