Here’s How Much 2024 Presidential Candidate Larry Elder Is Worth

Larry Elder has spent his life chasing the limelight. His yearning for stardom transported him from L.A.’s struggling South Central to its glamorous Hollywood Hills—but also took him to the brink of financial ruin.

By Monica Hunter-Hart, Contributor

Larry Elder pitches his presidential campaign as an act of personal sacrifice. “I’m not flush like some of the other candidates, so this is a big financial hit for me,” says the California media icon, who Forbes estimates is worth $4 million. “I gave up my nationally syndicated column. I gave up my radio show. I gave up my TV show.”

But if Elder’s career is any indication, running for president might not prove to be a big sacrifice after all. For years, he has chased brighter lights and bigger platforms. That’s how he became an entrepreneur, swerved into media, then emerged as a contender in the California governor recall election. His career shifts haven’t always produced immediate success, but they have led to million-dollar opportunities over time. At 71 years old, Elder is surely savvy enough to know that he is not likely to end up as the next president. But he’s also taken enough risks to learn that he has plenty to gain by trying.

The son of a janitor, Elder grew up the second of three brothers in L.A.’s South Central neighborhood. He graduated high school near the top of his class in 1970 and headed to Brown University, where he studied political science. Law school at the University of Michigan followed, and then a job at the prominent Cleveland firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (now known as Squire Patton Boggs).

Unsatisfied with the pace of advancement—he told the libertarian magazine Reason in 1996 that “I wanted to make more money, and I wanted to make it faster”—he left the firm after a few years to start his own headhunting business, Laurence A. Elder and Associates. By 1988, he was making enough to buy two homes, a $167,000 condo in Cleveland and a $550,000 house in Hollywood Hills.

California Dreaming

Larry Elder has thrown millions at Los Angeles real estate over the years. He lost one home in a foreclosure but held onto another and inherited a third.

But he remained unfulfilled. Elder’s real interest lay with political and cultural commentary, so he began cultivating a new career, starting with guest appearances on the radio and a stint hosting a PBS show. At a time when racial tensions were high—his parents’ home was just a mile from the spot where riots broke out in the wake of the 1991 Rodney King beating—Elder attracted attention by arguing that racism was no longer a significant problem in the United States.

In 1993, he nabbed the job for which he would become known: host of a show on the Los Angeles radio station KABC. His fiery takes about race, including rants against affirmative action (of which he admits he was a beneficiary), quickly shot him to notoriety. KABC briefly shortened his time slot in 1997, reinstating it after a conservative group reportedly spent hundreds of thousands on ads accusing the station of prejudice. Onlookers speculated that activist pressure on advertisers to boycott Elder’s show might have influenced the waffling. In 2000, Elder released his first book, The Ten Things You Can’t Say In America, which spent two weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

With fame came luxury. By the end of that year, Elder had offloaded his existing properties, selling both at a slight loss. Undeterred, he splurged on an upgrade, paying $1.65 million for his current home and financing the entire purchase price. He ended up with a lavish property that features an infinity pool looking over the city, but also the beginning of a series of financial issues. The federal government briefly placed a lien on the property months after Elder bought it, saying he owed $47,000 in income taxes. Elder says the IRS made a mistake; the agency declined to comment on the case.

“I’ve never not paid taxes,” Elder says. “I don’t have any tax liens. I’m current in everything. I’m not a tax deadbeat. I pay off my credit cards, 100% every single month. I don’t even have any credit card fees.”

As Elder’s media opportunities multiplied—he kept up his long-running radio gig, published a new book and hosted shows for MSNBC and Warner Brothers—he got even more aggressive with real estate. In May 2007, near the peak of the U.S. property bubble, Elder took out two new loans against his house, piling on $3.2 million of debt. The next month, he used the entity that held his Hollywood Hills home to purchase a second Los Angeles property, paying $3.6 million and borrowing another $2.9 million.

His timing could not have been much worse. Two years later, the housing market was in crisis and Elder was short on cash. He defaulted on the second home. His lenders confiscated the property, selling it at auction for $2.4 million in 2010. By then his debt load on the place measured over $3 million, apparently leaving Elder to come up with roughly $600,000 out of pocket.

He almost lost his other house, too. His creditor started issuing notices of default in 2011, declaring that Elder wasn’t paying back his debt there, either. He fought back. Claiming financial hardship, Elder successfully appealed for a mortgage modification plan in 2014, requiring him to pay $6,000 a month initially and up to $10,000 per month by 2018.

As all of this was going on, Elder was also experiencing a rocky period at work. KABC dropped him briefly in 2008, then permanently in 2014. He moved onto other outlets and settled in at the conservative network Salem Radio.

“Wow,” he says when asked about his financial troubles. “All I can tell you is that I am a homeowner. I am somebody that has lived in the same house since 2000.”

Elder did indeed manage to hang on. Today, he owes an estimated $2.7 million on his home loan. The value of the property, which he purchased for $1.65 million in 2000, now stands at an estimated $5 million. Elder’s interest, therefore, amounts to roughly $2.3 million net of debt—making it, by far, his most valuable holding.

In 2021, after years of flirting with the idea of entering politics but flinching at the pay, Elder finally gave it a shot. He threw his name into the hat in California’s 2021 recall election against Governor Gavin Newsom. Elder won more votes than any other replacement candidate, though he fell well short of the tally needed to oust the governor.

But politicians have plenty of ways to make money beyond collecting government paychecks. In 2022, Elder created a federal political action committee. The group has so far raised $1.8 million and spent more than 90% of that on operating costs, including $150,000 to pay Elder personally. He also joined former housing secretary Ben Carson and country music singer John Rich to open a “cancel-proof” bank named Old Glory. The institution launched in May and claims to have over 100,000 clients. It recently started a loan program and its balance sheet remains small (executive Eric Ohlhausen says it has over $60 million in assets). Elder listed the value of his stake at over $1 million on a financial disclosure form, which would make it the second-biggest asset in his portfolio.

He doesn’t own much else. Elder has a SAG-AFTRA pension from his radio days and inherited a 50% stake in his parents’ home. On the disclosure, which records the value of assets in broad ranges, he lists $15,000 to $50,000 worth of stock in a liver disease and cancer research company as well as a $100,000 to $250,000 stake in the Black News Channel, now called TheGrio.

The exposure he gains from this run could create more opportunities for him soon, like speaking appearances, media plays or business deals. Plus, there’s always the chance that Donald Trump might be looking for a fellow media-savvy, controversy-courting politician to serve as his running mate. “If I’m not the party nominee,” says Elder, “and if Trump or some other nominee calls me, I will not let the call go to voicemail.”


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Inside the rugby league town that’s produced dozens of the game’s greats

For every rugby league club there’s good years, great years, and downright grim years.

A few years on from a handful of wooden spoons, the Maitland Pickers are knee deep in the good times.

“This side has a thirst for success, and our club has a thirst for success,” said first grade coach Matt Lantry at a training session before the side travelled to Sydney to defend the Presidents Cup today.

And it was a successful defence again, locking away the 2023 title with a 32-10 victory over St Marys Saints in Parramatta.

The cup was established in 2020, giving semi-professional regional and city teams another competition to contest.

It’s only ever been won by the Pickers, and ahead of the grand final they were hell bent on keeping it that way.

Maitland Pickers won the 2023 Newcastle Rugby League Premiership in early September.(ABC Newcastle: Bridget Murphy)

Maitland qualified after securing the Newcastle Rugby League premiership, backing up last year’s local title.

“Rugby league is healthy in Maitland and I think it’s a little healthier because of how well the Maitland Pickers are doing,” Lantry said.

“When this club’s going well it gives it a real positive feel around our community.”

Humble foundations

Behind the brag-worthy record the club is rooted — literally — in humble origins.

Their original moniker, the Maitland Pumpkin Pickers, is from the early days of the club, where players would pack produce onto the train to Newcastle to sell at the markets after a game.

When you scratch the surface of the club, a list of legends emerges.

a black and white photo of a man in the 50's holding a rugby league trophy in front of a crowd

The early days of the Maitland Pickers saw great success in the local competition.(Supplied: Maitland Pickers RLC)

Australian representative lock Greg Bird kicked off his career the way several do in Maitland — play for the Pickers, get picked by the Knights, before being poached by other clubs.

“You see people that grew up around the corner from your house going on to have the sort of successes in sport that you probably didn’t realise you could have coming from Maitland,” he said.

“You don’t think you’re getting all the way to the top when you’re playing for the love of the game.

“You never forget where you came from.”

Greg Bird of the Gold Coast Titans dives through the Newcastle Knights defence

Greg Bird playing for the Titans against the Newcastle Knights in 2016.(AAP: Darren Pateman)

Pathways galore

If you roam the B Block corridor at Maitland’s All Saints College (ASC) and look closely you’ll find photographs of the eighth Rugby League Immortal, Andrew Johns.

A class photo of the 1991 All Saints College graduating class. NRL player Andrew Johns is pictured

NRL legend Andrew “Joey” Johns was a student at ASC in the 1980s and 90s.(ABC Newcastle: Bridget Murphy)

Many of the town’s big names have come through ASC.

Some were coached by Shane ‘the whippet’ Whereat, a former NRL Eels and Roosters sprinter, now PE teacher.

The school’s link to the Pickers is a commitment led by Whereat and Lantry to nurture the next generation.

“It’s great for our students to be associated with that, to build exposure for our rugby league program where we can draw kids here who not only just want a pathway in the game but also want that holistic education,” Lantry said.

“We encourage them to do all those things they strive for, not just on the training paddock but off it as well.

“We try to instil respect and integrity as part of that.”

Image, left, of Shane Whereat at NRL training in the 90's. Image, right, of Shane now as a sport teacher

Shane ‘the whippet’ Whereat was one of the fastest players in the NRL in the 1990s.(Supplied: NRL, ABC Newcastle: Bridget Murphy)

Being able to treat footy seriously, alongside study, is a dream for Pickers under 19s halfback Ashton Farrell.

“Every kid’s dream is to play in the NRL, but I’ll take it as it comes,” he said.

“I want to go overseas and play eventually, do a bit of travelling overseas. But at the moment, I’m pretty happy at Maitland.”

two teenage boys, students at a highschool, stand with a football. They're in their school's rugby league jersey

ASC students Lucas Hickling and Ashton Farrell are able to pursue tailored sports training alongside academia.(ABC Newcastle: Bridget Murphy)

It’s not just league having a moment in town. The local union side, the Maitland Blacks, broke a two-decade-long premiership drought this year.

“The coaching and all the support and good tips keeps you on track with class and stuff,” said Lucas Hickling, who plays in the Blacks’ junior side.

“I think everyone loves footy and Maitland has a lot of support. You can talk to anyone about it.”

Love for the team brings them back

an image of rugby league players at training

Brock Lamb and Lincoln Smith, far right, have been playing together for more than a decade.(ABC Newcastle: Bridget Murphy)

Pickers’ halfback Brock Lamb and second row Lincoln Smith first played footy together at ASC.

Lamb played for the Newcastle Knights and the Sydney Roosters NRL sides after school before heading to the London Broncos in the UK Super League.

“It’s been so good to get the band back together, play together,” Smith said.

“It just shows how close our relationship is, and not just with me and Linc,” Lamb said.

“I think the best thing with us is we can give each other a lot of sh*t because we’ve known each other for so long. It actually motivates us and gets us going.”

two men posing after their team won a local rugby league grand final

Captain Alex Langbridge and assistant coach Darren Taylor at the Newcastle Rugby League grand final.(ABC Newcastle: Bridget Murphy)

This year two regional teams, Thirroul and Dubbo, pulled out of the semi finals, handing a grand final appearance to Maitland and St Marys.

The three-peat, and being the only team with their name on the silverware, is nothing compared to being able to keep playing the game they love together.

“It’s been a good bunch of blokes. We’ve had a bit of fun, and we’ve strived to continue the great legacy that players of Maitland have set before,” said skipper Alex Langbridge.

The only thing standing in the way of yet another successful defence in 2024 could be administrative.

There’s talk the Presidents Cup is under review by NSW Rugby League.


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Biden’s rebuke of a bold, reform-minded crime law makes all Americans less safe

President Joe Biden’s support for a Republican-led effort to nullify the Washington D.C. City Council’s revision of its criminal code, signed into law on Monday, plays into the fear narrative that is being increasingly advanced across the U.S.

Biden could have used his platform and clout to clarify the actual substance of the carefully crafted District of Columbia proposal — and adhere to his campaign commitment to reduce the number of incarcerated Americans.

Instead, the president ignored the glaring problems in D.C.’s existing criminal code, which the 275-page long package of revisions was designed to address. This included reforming the draconian and inflexible sentencing requirements that have swelled the District’s incarceration rate and wasted countless resources imprisoning individuals who pose no danger to public safety. By rejecting this decade-plus effort, the president decided that D.C. residents have no right to determine for themselves how to fix these problems.

There are communities across the U.S. that see virtually no violent crime, and it isn’t because they’re the most policed.

Biden’s decision is the latest backlash to U.S. justice reform coming from both sides of the political aisle.

Instead of doubling down on failed tough-on-crime tactics, Americans need to come together to articulate and invest in a new vision of public safety. We already know what that looks like because there are communities across the country which see virtually no violent crime, and it isn’t because they’re the most policed.

Safe communities are places where people (even those facing economic distress) are housed, where schools have the resources to teach all children, where the water and air are clean, where families have access to good-paying jobs and comprehensive healthcare, and where those who are struggling are given a hand, not a handcuff.

This is the kind of community every American deserves to live in, but that future is only possible if we shift resources from carceral responses to communities and shift our mindset from punishment to prevention. 

Too often it’s easier to advocate for locking people up than it is to innovate and advance a new vision for public safety. 

In the wake of particularly traumatic years, as well as growing divisiveness that has politicized criminal justice reform, it is not surprising that many people believe their communities are less safe. While public perceptions of crime have long been disconnected from actual crime rates and can be heavily influenced by media coverage, the data tells a mixed story. Homicide rates did increase in both urban and rural areas in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and record levels of gun sales.

While early available data suggests these numbers are trending down, it’s too soon to tell, especially given the nation’s poor crime data infrastructure. What is clear is that there is no evidence that criminal justice reform is to blame for rising crime, despite well-funded attempts by those resistant to change and who are intent on driving a political agenda to make such a claim stick. 

Yet fear often obscures facts; people are scared for their safety and want reassurance. Too often it’s easier to advocate for locking people up than it is to innovate and advance a new vision for public safety. 

We need leaders who can govern with both empathy and integrity – who can provide genuine compassion to those who feel scared while also following the data about how to create safer communities. And all the data points to the need for reform. 

Mass incarceration costs U.S. taxpayers an estimated $1 trillion annually.

Mass incarceration costs U.S. taxpayers an estimated $1 trillion annually, when you factor in not only the cost of confinement but also the crushing toll placed on incarcerated people and their families, children, and communities. Despite this staggering figure, there’s no real evidence that incarceration works, and in fact some evidence to suggest it actually makes people more likely to commit future crimes. Yet we keep pouring more and more taxpayer dollars into this short-sighted solution that, instead of preventing harm, only delays and compounds it. 

We have to stop pretending that reform is the real threat to public safety and recognize how our over-reliance on incarceration actually makes us less safe. 

Reform and public safety go hand in hand. Commonsense changes including reforming cash bail, revisiting extreme sentences and diverting people from the criminal legal system have all been shown to have positive effects on individuals and communities.

At a time of record-low clearance rates nationwide and staffing challenges in police departments and prosecutor’s offices, arresting and prosecuting people for low-level offenses that do not impact public safety can actually make us less safe by directing resources away from solving serious crimes and creating collateral consequences for people that make it harder to escape cycles of poverty and crime. 

Yet, tough-on-crime proponents repeatedly misrepresent justice reform by claiming that reformers are simply letting people who commit crimes off the hook. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reform does not mean a lack of accountability, but rather a more effective version of accountability for everyone involved. 

Our traditional criminal legal system has failed victims time and again. In a 2022 survey of crime survivors, just 8% said that the justice system was very helpful in navigating the legal process and being connected to services. Many said they didn’t even report the crime because of distrust of the system. 

When asked what they want, many crime survivors express a fundamental desire to ensure that the person who caused them harm doesn’t hurt them or anyone else ever again. But status quo approaches aren’t providing that. The best available data shows that 7 in 10 people released from prison in 2012 were rearrested within five years. Perhaps that’s why crime victims support alternatives to traditional prosecution and incarceration by large margins. 

For example, in New York City, Common Justice offered the first alternative-to-incarceration program in the country focused on violent felonies in adult courts. When given the option, 90% of eligible victims chose to participate in a restorative justice program through Common Justice over incarcerating the person who harmed them. Just 7% of participants have been terminated from the program for committing a new crime. 

A restorative justice program launched by former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón for youth facing serious felony charges was shown to reduce participants’ likelihood of rearrest by 44 percent within six months compared to youth who went through the traditional juvenile justice system, and the effects were still notable even four years after the initial offer to participate.

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt launched a groundbreaking program last year to allow people convicted of violent offenses to avoid prison time if they commit to behavioral health treatment. As of January, just one of 60 participants had been rearrested for a misdemeanor. 

While too many politicians give lip service to reform, those who really care about justice are doing the work, regardless of electoral consequences. We need more bold, innovative leaders willing to rethink how we achieve safety and accountability, not those who go where the wind blows and spread misinformation for political gain. 

Fear should not cause us to repeat the mistakes of the past. When politicians finally decide to care more about protecting people than protecting their own power, only then will we finally achieve the safety that all communities deserve. 

Miriam Aroni Krinsky is the executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, a former federal prosecutor, and the author of Change from Within: Reimagining the 21st-Century Prosecutor. Alyssa Kress is the communications director of Fair and Just Prosecution.  

More: Wrongful convictions cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Wrongdoing prosecutors must be held accountable.

Plus: Senate votes to block D.C. crime laws, with Biden’s support

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