Eldridge financial disclosures show millions in investments

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Eldridge. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
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ALBANY—Congressional candidate Sean Eldridge's newly released financial disclosures show he holds tens of millions of dollars in investments in a variety of companies including Hudson Valley breweries, organic farm shares, Facebook and global energy firms.

Eldridge, a Democrat who is running against incumbent Chris Gibson for a seat in the 19th Congressional District, runs the venture capital firm Hudson River Ventures, which invests in companies throughout the Hudson Valley district and elsewhere in the region.

Hudson River Ventures invested up to $1.7 million in almost 20 different businesses, according to the disclosures, which cover the period from Jan. 1, 2013, to April 30, 2014 and are required under federal election law.

Eldridge, who is married to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, holds hundreds of investments in bonds and stocks that total tens of millions of dollars in a wide variety of companies, including ExxonMobil, Halliburton and Marathon Oil, the new disclosures show. He also holds investments in Monsanto, the global agriculture giant. There are also holdings in Facebook, Tesla, Upworthy and Netflix, according to the disclosures.

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Eldridge's holdings are largely invested through index funds, which are managed by a third party, said his spokeswoman, Sophie Friedman. She said state pension systems often have a similar variety of diverse stock holdings.

“Not unlike many index and pension funds—including the New York State Common Retirement Fund—Sean and Chris are invested in a diverse set of companies, throughout many sectors of the U.S. economy, including energy, health care, and other industries,” she said.

The businesses supported by Hudson River Ventures are among those popular with young voters and the urban transplants who are increasingly becoming a part of the fabric of the Hudson Valley and Catskill region. They include breweries in Chatham and Peekskill, an Apple Jack distillery, the Bread Alone bakery, a Poughkeepsie chocolate maker, and a few restaurants. There is an investment in the Hudson Valley Seed Library and a few online farmers markets as well.

Hudson River Ventures supports businesses in the region through loans and investments. Eldridge has been criticized for using the business as a de facto political operation to generate goodwill in the district, where he and Hughes recently relocated. He also donated $250,000 to build a 3-D printing technology center at SUNY New Paltz.

In a statement, Eldridge did not directly acknowledge the investments in the energy or agricultural companies, but said that when he and Hughes were growing up they couldn't imagine the opportunities they now have.

“Chris and I understand that no one makes it on their own,” Eldridge said in a statement. “We've benefited from great teachers, college loans, and an American spirit that rewards innovation.”

The new disclosures are the broadest public peak yet at Eldridge's finances, though it has been reported his husband walked away from Facebook with about $500 million. In the past, Eldridge did not have to reveal the finances of his wealthy spouse because the federal government did not recognize gay marriages. But now that key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act have been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, Eldridge is required to disclose a wider variety of the couple's financial information.

The disclosures also show Eldridge holds leadership positions at a number of organizations, including Scenic Hudson; the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders; the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation and the Telos Foundation.