At least four candidates running to represent the 10th Congressional District are invested in Grand Canyon Education, a for-profit, publicly-traded company that runs Grand Canyon University, which has publicly espoused an extremely anti-abortion viewpoint.
Dan Goldman, a former federal prosecutor and the current frontrunner in the race, holds an investment of up to $15,000 in the company, financial disclosure forms show.
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and former Rep. Liz Holtzman are also each invested in mutual funds that hold positions in Grand Canyon Education — but all three of those candidates contend that one of the four investments is not like the others.
Goldman boasts a net worth of between $64 million and $253 million. None of his rivals — who also include Rep. Mondaire Jones and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou — come anywhere close.
Goldman’s investment in the company, which he revealed in a disclosure that covers Jan. 2021 through June 2022, lists his stake as being between $1,001 and $15,000. A spokesman with his campaign, Simone Kanter, noted that the stock in the company was purchased for him in August 2011 through a blind trust when Goldman was serving as a Justice Department prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. Through the trust, Goldman bought 11 shares at $14.37 a piece — a total investment of $158.11 at the time, said Kantor, who noted that Goldman still only owns 11 shares, which would put the investment’s current value at about $941.
In its literature, Grand Canyon has made clear it is staunchly pro-life. In its ethical positions statement, it says that “as a Christian institution, GCU affirms that every human being is precious to God and should be treated with the dignity and respect appropriate to creatures who bear the image and likeness of the Creator.”
A social media post about the school’s “Abortion Is Genocide Speaking Tour” takes a more explicit stance.
“Genocide always entails the dehumanization of an entire class of human beings in order to justify their mistreatment or slaughter,” the posting says. “Those who murdered Jews and blacks denied the personhood of their victims just as vehemently as practitioners of abortion deny the personhood of the unborn.”
The abortion issue has been a thorn in Goldman’s side since July when he said he wouldn’t object to a law that bars abortions after a fetus is considered viable.
He quickly backtracked, saying that he’d misspoke, but his opponents have continued to fixate on it — and have used it as a cudgel to question whether voters should trust him on the issue.
Rivera and her campaign recently attacked Goldman for the investment in Grand Canyon.
“New Yorkers deserve a representative with a history of fighting for and passing laws protecting choice,” Rivera said. “Not one who waivers on their commitment to abortion access and needs scripted talking points about abortion from campaign consultants.”
Rivera’s spokeswoman Alyssa Cass used harsher rhetoric.
“Using the profits from your investment in an anti-choice college to self-fund $1 million worth of commercials where you claim to be ‘100% pro-choice’ is dishonest and insulting,” she said.
In response, Goldman’s team pointed not only to Rivera’s financial disclosure, which lists a mutual fund with current positions in Grand Canyon, but to Simon and Holtzman’s as well.
Simon said that an investment in a mutual fund doesn’t give the investor any say in the actual stocks that are in it — unlike an investment in an individual stock like Goldman’s. She also dismissed his campaign’s blind trust explanation as flawed.
“It’s not in a blind trust now,” she said. “He’s a prosecutor. If he were prosecuting this case, that’s the first thing he’d point out.”
Holtzman, who managed the city’s pension funds at comptroller, noted that people who invested in city funds, like herself, do not get a say in what stocks are in a mutual fund, but only get to choose which funds to invest in. She also noted that since many of those funds hold positions that track with the S&P 500, which changes frequently.
“He’s trying to blame other people and smear them,” she said. “Shame on him for that.”
Kanter contended that Goldman learned he was invested in the asset only after a reporter brought it to his attention.
“This position was bought over a decade ago while Dan’s assets were in a blind trust while he was employed by the Southern District of New York. It was purchased without his knowledge while he was a public servant and he only became aware of the asset itself and the abhorrent values it represents when it was brought up to him by the press,” Kanter said. “Dan has already instructed his broker to divest from this stock. This asset certainly does not reflect Dan’s values, in the same way he knows it doesn’t reflect the values of the multiple other candidates in this race who own the same asset.”