Here’s How Much The Virginia Governor GOP Candidate Glenn Youngkin Made At The Carlyle Group
At the heart of Richmond, Virginia, the 208-year-old, cream-colored executive mansion—set on 28 acres—sits across from the Virginia State Capitol, an imposing neoclassical temple designed by Thomas Jefferson at the close of the 18th century. Virginia’s governors have traditionally resided in the Federal-style manor, taking advantage of a dining room that’s hosted guests such as Queen Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill. But those lodgings may not be much of an upgrade for Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee in the November gubernatorial election.
The co-CEO of private equity giant The Carlyle Group until he resigned in September to run for office, Youngkin, 54, already has several mansions at his disposal: Besides his 13-acre home with an outdoor basketball court and a swimming pool in the DC exurb of Great Falls, he can also decamp to his six-bedroom estate in the tony mountain resort of Jackson Hole, Wyoming or a 92-acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country, part of an estimated $18 million in real estate holdings spanning three states.
Youngkin and his wife Suzanne also hold another $15 million in real estate in their private charitable foundation, including a $6 million property in McLean, Virginia that it rents to a church for $1 a year and a $9 million, 358-acre farm in nearby Middleburg that it rents to a Christian retreat center for the same amount.
For more on Glenn Youngkin’s foundation, read this story:
In June, his opponent, former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, called Youngkin a billionaire in a tweet assailing him for opposing a $15 minimum wage. Youngkin and McAuliffe are locked in a tight race ahead of the election on November 2nd—McAuliffe led by just four points among likely voters in an Emerson College poll of the Democratic-leaning state on Tuesday—and the two rivals faced off in their first debate at the Appalachian School of Law in southwest Virginia on Thursday. McAuliffe was wrong about Youngkin’s fortune, but he is still extremely wealthy: Forbes estimates that Youngkin, who spent 25 years at Carlyle, including his three-year stint at the helm, has a net worth of roughly $440 million. That fortune is largely made up of his nearly 2% stake in Carlyle—worth about $340 million—which he placed in a blind trust in May after winning the Republican nomination.
The rest of Youngkin’s fortune comes mainly from Carlyle’s sizable yearly dividends: Forbes estimates that Youngkin received $86 million in dividends and sold nearly $50 million of stock since the IPO, and that altogether after taxes he holds more than $80 million in cash and other investments. His statement of economic interests filed with the state’s Department of Elections in June revealed that he owns millions of dollars in a range of stocks (Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft, to name a few) and Virginia municipal bonds, as well as a horse farm in Virginia run by his wife Suzanne and a stake in the Professional Fighters League, a mixed martial arts competition.
Youngkin has already been putting his fortune to work in the gubernatorial race. Since January, the former Carlyle CEO has loaned $16.5 million to his campaign, making up nearly half of his fundraising haul of $35.3 million. Despite his wealth and connections from his time at Carlyle, which was founded by three of America’s wealthiest private equity magnates—David Rubenstein, Bill Conway and Daniel D’Aniello—Youngkin hasn’t been as successful in attracting donations from billionaires: Forbes found eight billionaires and spouses of billionaires who donated a combined $270,000 to Youngkin’s campaign, including Koch family scion William Koch and Tennessee’s former Republican Governor Bill Haslam.
That pales in comparison to the more than $1 million raised from billionaires by Youngkin’s opponent. McAuliffe, who was Virginia governor from 2014 to 2018 (Virginia is the only U.S. state that doesn’t allow governors to run for a second consecutive term), has outpaced Youngkin in both overall fundraising and donations from billionaires: His campaign reported $31.8 million in contributions as of the end of August, with no loans or gifts from McAuliffe himself, compared to the $18.8 million raised by Youngkin excluding personal loans. McAuliffe received donations from nine billionaires and spouses, raking in six-figure sums from billionaire investor George Soros and tech billionaire Sean Parker. One billionaire, Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, donated $10,000 to each of Youngkin’s and McAuliffe’s campaigns; a spokesperson for Leonsis declined to comment.
While not nearly as deep-pocketed as his wealthier rival, Terry McAuliffe has a net worth of at least $9 million, according to his statement of economic interests filed in June. He lives in his own plush, seven-bedroom house with a private pool in the DC suburb of McLean (worth $1.7 million), a short drive away from Youngkin’s home in nearby Great Falls. McAuliffe is also a “minimal” investor in a Carlyle fund with a stake worth less than $5,000, according to a spokesperson for his campaign, who added that McAuliffe hasn’t made new investments in the fund since 2008.
Because Virginia’s financial disclosures require candidates to list the value of their assets in broad ranges with the highest being $250,000 or more, both McAuliffe’s and Youngkin’s fortunes could be significantly larger. When McAuliffe ran for Governor in 2013, he released tax information showing income of $9.5 million in 2012 and $8.2 million in 2011. Both campaigns told the Associated Press in July that each candidate would disclose some details of their recent tax filings—without releasing the full returns—before the November election. So far, neither has.
According to an expert on Virginia campaign finance laws, there is little incentive for politicians on either side of the aisle to push for changes to Virginia’s disclosure laws, because neither party wants to alienate the wealthy donors who can provide the edge in the state’s highly competitive elections. At the federal level, the maximum bracket in politicians’ disclosure forms is for assets worth more than $50 million, far higher than the $250,000 or more in Virginia.
“We don’t make any attempt to create different gradations of wealth,” says Allison Tait, a law professor at the University of Richmond, pointing to Youngkin as a prime example of the pitfalls of the current disclosure laws. “It just really fails to capture how spectacularly wealthy some people are.”
Youngkin’s path to spectacular wealth began in his home state of Virginia. Youngkin describes on his campaign website how he frequently moved around as a child due to his father, an accountant, changing jobs. Youngkin’s first job was washing dishes and frying eggs at a seaside diner in Virginia Beach, and he spent much of high school playing basketball at the elite Norfolk Academy—founded in 1728, when Virginia was still a British colony.
The hoop skills landed Youngkin an athletic scholarship to Rice University in Texas, where he graduated with an engineering degree in 1990. He then moved to Boston for a gig at investment bank First Boston before leaving in 1992 to pursue a Harvard MBA. After graduating in 1994 and working for one year at McKinsey, he joined Carlyle’s U.S. buyout team in Washington D.C. in 1995 and later led buyouts in the U.K. from 2000 to 2005 before returning to D.C. A bit more than a decade later, in 2018, he was elevated to co-CEO alongside Kewsong Lee, until his retirement last year to run for Governor.
Youngkin’s track record at the top wasn’t exactly stellar: He was reportedly responsible for investments in hedge funds, infrastructure and energy that turned out to be unsuccessful and eventually led to a power struggle with his co-CEO Lee. That struggle left Youngkin with fewer responsibilities and eventually spurred his retirement to run for office.
“I recruited Glenn to Carlyle a quarter century ago, and have been pleased to see him grow into an exceptional private equity professional,” said Carlyle cofounder David Rubenstein in a statement when Youngkin stepped down. “I certainly understand the pull of the kind of public service activities to which Glenn is committed.”
In May, barely eight months after exiting Carlyle, he placed his stake in the firm in a blind trust. That sets him apart from McAuliffe, who has yet to do the same this cycle and who waited until after his victory in 2013 to place his assets in a blind trust. While candidates for public office aren’t required to establish a blind trust under Virginia or federal law—other wealthy politicians, including former President Donald Trump, never did—it allows politicians to distance themselves from their businesses or investments and have no knowledge of how the assets are being managed. A spokesperson for McAuliffe’s campaign declined to comment on whether the former governor plans to establish a blind trust now or in the future.
In a race where both candidates are multi-millionaires with billionaire-heavy rolodexes, the scrutiny over their financial activities is unlikely to end before Virginians go to the polls on November 2nd. The 2021 gubernatorial campaign is already on track to become the most expensive in the state’s history, adding Virginia to the list of states with high-spending races: Illinois elected billionaire heir J.B. Pritzker as governor in 2016, while Californians rejected former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in 2010. That trend may ultimately make it more difficult for individuals without deep pockets (Youngkin) or wealthy backers (McAuliffe) to run for office.
“It’s going to become increasingly common,” says Richmond University’s Tait. “Think about the amount of money it takes to run and what it means about the pool of people who can run for office.”