November 20, 2015


Ben Carson Won't Explain His Mysterious Palm Beach Real Estate Deal : Does he own this $10 million horse estate? His campaign won't say. (Russ Choma | Tue Nov. 17, 2015, mOTHER jONES)

Last week, Mother Jones and the Associated Press reported that GOP front-runner Ben Carson had a business relationship with a felonious ex-dentist in Pittsburgh named Alfonso Costa, who had once been convicted of healthcare fraud. Carson made between $200,000 to $2 million last year on a real estate investment linked to Costa, whom Carson has often described as his best friend. When these stories appeared, Carson said he stood by Costa, but he declined to say much else. A further examination of Carson's financial disclosure form and public records indicates that the retired neurosurgeon has another lucrative real estate investment that may be associated with Costa. But the disclosure statement doesn't provide all the required information about this asset, and the Carson campaign refused to answer questions about this property.

On the disclosure form, Carson lists a plot of land in West Palm Beach worth $1 to $5 million. He describes the property as "CPC Grand Prix South Lot." Yet there are no Palm Beach County real estate records that show Carson's ownership of this lot.

Local real estate records note that Carson does own property in the area, but only his personal residence, which is on a golf course in West Palm Beach and was purchased for $775,000 in 2013. If Carson owns any other real estate in Palm Beach County--such as this CPC Grand Prix South Lot--he must hold it via an investment vehicle. Yet neither of the shell corporations that Carson and his wife list on his disclosure--corporations through which they invested in a Pittsburgh real estate deal connected to Costa--own property in Palm Beach County. So how does Carson own the Palm Beach property he lists on the disclosure form?

The description of the property is another mystery. There are no legal entities or corporations called "CPC Grand Prix South Lot" in Florida. There is a sub-development on record with the Palm Beach County property appraiser called Grand Prix Village South. It includes 15 lots, all of which were empty two years ago but are now under rapid development as part of a fast-growing "equestrian community," which consists of mega-sized homes and horse stables with Olympic-class riding facilities. Palm Beach County real estate records show that Alfonso Costa's real estate company, Costa Land Company, purchased one of the Grand Prix Village South lots in March 2014 for $2.8 million. Is this connected to Carson's disclosed real estate investment?

Posted by at November 20, 2015 5:17 PM