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Democratic Public Advocate Candidates Spar Over Personal Finances

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Democratic candidate for public advocate Letitia James released her tax return for 2012 on Wednesday, after promising she would make them public during Tuesday night's NY1 debate, where both candidates faced attacks over their personal finances. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

With a runoff set for next week in the Democratic primary for public advocate, candidates Daniel Squadron and Letitia James have stepped up their attacks, particularly over personal finances and income.

Squadron: Will you pledge right here that you will release your tax returns tomorrow morning?
James: Yes, Dan, I will release my tax returns, just as I hope you that you would release the fact that you have a trust fund. You have lived on a trust fund for a very long time.

On Wednesday, James released her 2012 tax return, which shows that she made roughly $120,000 last year, including her City Council salary.

But because of about $14,000 in losses from outside income, her total gross take-home was about $107,000.

A closer look at the rental income on the brownstone she owns in Brooklyn shows that James took in about $44,000 in rental income, but after paying a mortgage of more than $18,000, plus taxes and repairs to the property, she wound up with a loss of more than $50,000.

Officials in Squadron's campaign question why she only released one year of returns, when they have released five years.

They also accused James of not releasing returns from 2007 to 2011, when she failed to report rental income.

But Squadron also faces questions about his personal and family money.

"My family and I were victims of the Madoff scheme, and we lost everything," Squadron said.

However, a careful examination shows the facts to be a little more complicated.

While the Squadron family account of roughly $11 million invested in 1987 was lost, the Madoff bankruptcy trustee filed a counterclaim against the Squadron family for trying to recoup their original investment.

According to the trustee, the family took out more money over the life of the trust than the initial investment - money that now is known to have come from ill-gotten gains.

The race for public advocate, which was slightly overshadowed by the contentious Democratic mayoral primary and even the Democratic primary for city comptroller, which featured a former New York governor, has now taken center stage as the only primary race with a runoff next week.

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