San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio went the furthest he’s ever gone Monday in answering a big question: How much he’s worth.

DeMaio made $2.5 million when he sold the two performance management companies he started in Washington D.C., according to the 2007 tax return he released Monday.

DeMaio’s personal wealth and companies matter to the mayor’s race and broader San Diego politics for two reasons.

1. He’s pumped more than $1 million of his own money into his campaigns and toward various ballot measures since he arrived in San Diego a decade ago. That includes $776,000 so far into this election.

2. He’s known in San Diego for championing the private sector. But a significant part of his own business dealings have come with the government. One of his former companies, The Performance Institute, made its money off government contracts and payouts for its consulting, training and conferences. Until now, he’s never disclosed how many public dollars the company received.

Here’s a rundown of what we now know — and still don’t — about DeMaio’s companies and finances.

What We Know

DeMaio said he sold his companies for $6 million. A profit-sharing deal, he said, with former employees lowered his take to $4 million. Lawyers, bankers and other costs reduced his earnings to $2.5 million, according to the tax return. The return also shows that he received a $110,880 salary in 2007.

By 2007, DeMaio said his two companies took in about $15 million in annual revenue. DeMaio estimated that half that money came from the government.

What Still We Don’t Know

For years, DeMaio has denied requests to release this information by rivals and the media. We asked him for details about his companies for our lengthy profile on his time in Washington D.C.

During this campaign, he said a five-year nondisclosure agreement prohibited him from discussing the sale price and specific financial information about his companies. The five years are now up, which is why he said he could release the returns.

Some of the information he revealed — the $4 million from the sale, the $2.5 million in earnings and the annual salary — is documented on the tax forms.

For the rest, notably the percentage of public money his company received, we have to take him at his word.

DeMaio said his companies’ old financial details were part of the sale and he couldn’t release it. He also said he didn’t plan to disclose the purchase agreement because it included proprietary information.

“The tax returns are mine and mine alone,” DeMaio said. “Those are certainly within my purview and my control to release.”

The Broader Context

DeMaio released five years of tax returns and reiterated his open government ideas on Monday. He called on his opponent, Bob Filner, to release five years of returns as well and to disclose all his campaign donors. Under city election rules, only people who donate more than $100 have to be disclosed on forms. DeMaio discloses all of his donors and Filner doesn’t.

Filner responded late Monday by saying he’ll disclose his tax information only when DeMaio also releases tax returns from his businesses and his partner.

We asked DeMaio and Filner to fill out questionnaires on their transparency plans and found that both are promising to do more than the current administration.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5663.

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Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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