Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, today defended his ownership of four homes in Florida and his refusal to release the street addresses of the properties, saying he’s following state disclosure laws and that “there’s nothing sneaky here.”
“There’s nothing sneaky here. There’s nothing suspicious here, and unfortunately I’ve been losing money on them for seven years — and I should have invested in gold,” Libous said during an hourlong interview on WNBF-AM (1290) in Binghamton.
Libous spent most of the hour answering questions from callers about whether the state would proceed with hydraulic fracturing, which Libous supports.
But when host Bob Joseph began asking Libous in the final minutes about recent reports about his real-estate holdings, Libous said he wanted to stay on the air and explain himself. So Libous came back after 11 a.m. and discussed his holdings.
The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 5 that Libous has ownership in four homes in Florida. One of them is co-owned by a Libous campaign contributor, Luciano Piccirilli, who is also a government contractor from the senator’s district.
Libous said the Florida properties are investments, but after the housing market crashed, he’s losing money on the deals.
“We were hoping like a lot of people that we’d have a little retirement money down the road and flip properties like people were doing,” Libous said. “Well, the market crashed and instead of walking away from the banks, I’m paying dearly every month for those mortgages because I’m being responsible.”
Asked if the scrutiny on his properties was political, Libous said he’s a target in an election year in part because he heads the Senate GOP campaign committee.
“I also run the Senate campaign committee, and I like to take some responsibility for getting us back in the majority,” Libous said. “The New York City Democrats who we knocked out don’t like that. They feed reporters things all the time.”
Libous also called “bogus” a Times Union report on July 10 that indicated Libous might have financial interests in property in Chenango County, which would be ripe for fracking if the process is allowed by the state.
“That had nothing to do with me. I have no interest in Chenango County. I own no land for drilling,” Libous said. “I don’t know where that came from.”
Libous has also been investigated by the state Joint Committee on Public Ethics on allegations that he helped get his son a job at a politically connected law firm in Westchester County. Libous said he was unaware of the status of the reported probe.
“You would have to talk to them about anything they are doing because they are not making we aware of it,” Libous told Joseph.