In County Executive Race, One Candidate Has Far More Wealth Than the Others
Financial disclosure forms show David Blair's investments are worth more than $ 50 million and he is a member of ultra-exclusive private Yellowstone Club
Montgomery County executive candidates from top left Roger Berliner, David Blair, Marc Elrich, George Leventhal, Bill Frick and Rose Krasnow
Potomac businessman David Blair owns three homes, holds more than $50 million in investments and belongs to an ultra-exclusive private club that reportedly counts among its members Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and singer Justin Timberlake.
He is by far the wealthiest of the six Democratic candidates running for Montgomery County executive in this year’s election, according to the financial disclosure documents the candidates filed with the county. Bethesda Beat obtained the disclosure documents from the county in May that were filed by Blair and the other Democratic candidates: state Del. Bill Frick, former Rockville mayor Rose Krasnow, and County Council members Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal.
Blair has a primary residence in Potomac that he purchased for about $3 million in 2009. That same year Blair and his wife, Mikel, also purchased a waterfront Eastern Shore home in Royal Oak for about $1.8 million.
Blair also owns a condo valued at about $4.5 million in Madison County, Montana. The condo at the luxe Yellowstone Club gives Blair and his family access to a private ski resort, an 18-hole golf course and fly fishing streams.
The grounds at the resort are reserved for the approximately 800 club members who own properties—which are priced starting at $2.6 million for undeveloped land, according to the club’s website.
Blair is a partner in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns and operates three Washington, D.C., professional sports teams—the Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics—and Capital One Arena in the District. His Potomac home is next door to the home of Monumental Sports founder and CEO Ted Leonsis.
Blair’s financial disclosure form also notes he has ownership stakes valued at more than $1 million in at least six companies. Since the disclosure forms only require candidates to value their assets at greater than $1 million if the value is over that amount, it’s difficult to tell exactly how much these ownership stakes are worth. He also owns millions of dollars’ worth of stocks and bonds.
In an interview with Bethesda Beat in May, Blair declined to estimate his net worth or dispute Bethesda Beat’s rough estimate, based on his disclosure, that his net worth is more than $75 million.
“Overall, what I think is important is transparency and the avoidance of any conflicts,” Blair said. “The finance laws that we have are specific and we’ve fully complied with all those financial disclosures. I’m not going to comment on specifics. I don’t think that’s relevant to this race. If I were elected, one of the things that I’ll do is ask the [county] ethics commission … at my expense, I will ask them to take a look at those investments to make sure there are no conflicts of interest. If there are, I would quickly divest myself from them.”
Blair made a significant amount of his fortune as CEO of Catalyst Health Solutions, a company that was co-founded by his father, Thomas Blair, in 1998. It later went public in 1999 and David Blair helped guide it into the pharmacy-benefits management business. The company was sold for $4.4 billion to SXC Health Solutions in 2012.
“Now, I’m focused on giving back and trying to contribute to the community by being the next county executive,” Blair said.
The other Democratic candidates each reported having less than $3 million in properties and investments.
The exact value of the candidates’ investments is difficult to determine from the financial disclosure reports because the county only requires them to report the value of stocks and other investments in specific ranges, such from $1,000 to $50,000, with the highest value being greater than $1 million.
Krasnow reported stock investments ranging in value from $80,000 to $1.6 million. Her Rockville home on Don Mills Court is valued at $575,000, according to state assessment records. She served as Rockville mayor from 1995 to 2001 and then worked at the county’s planning department from 2004 until she resigned from her position as deputy director late last year to focus on her campaign.
Berliner reported investments valued between $72,000 and $1.2 million. He owns a condo in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, valued between $100,000 and $500,000 that he acquired an ownership interest in through his marriage to his wife. Locally, he rents an apartment at PerSei at Pike & Rose in North Bethesda. Berliner has served as a council member since 2006. Prior to joining the council, Berliner worked as an energy attorney after serving on the staffs of Sen. Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio and Rep. Henry Waxman of California.
Council members’ annual salaries have increased from about $104,000 in 2013 to the current $135,000 in 2017 per year rate. The county executive is paid about $190,000 annually.
Leventhal reported he owns two homes in Takoma Park—one on Piney Branch Road that is assessed at about $530,000 and another on Flower Avenue that is assessed at about $303,000. He also reported having a financial interest in a home day care business that his wife runs out of their Piney Branch Road home. He did not report owning any stocks, bonds or interests in other companies. Leventhal has served on the council since 2002.
Elrich, who has served on the council since 2002 as well, reported owning a home on Sligo Creek Parkway in Takoma Park that’s valued at about $485,700. He also owns stocks that were estimated to be worth between $3,000 and $150,000. Elrich served as a Takoma Park City Council member and worked as a teacher at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park before being elected to the County Council.
Frick, a senior litigation attorney at the Washington, D.C., law firm Akin Gump, and has served as a District 16 delegate in the General Assembly since 2007. State delegates are paid $43,500 per year. He reported owning a home on Winston Drive in Bethesda that is assessed at about $756,400. His only reported investment was in the $50,000 to $100,000 range in the alcohol production company Diageo, where his wife previously worked as an executive.