And he ventured into politics in a big way, for a newcomer. As a member of the
Then there was his candidacy for the state
End of story, right? Not exactly. Shoval is still on the ballot, and because of a quirk in state law, he could advance to November's general election -- maybe even win it -- if he's in the "Top Two" in Tuesday's primary. He is still a public figure who warrants news coverage. But not just because he's still on the ballot.
Because of Shoval's rise in local politics, and questions that began circulating in the community about his business practices,
We expected criticism from Shoval's supporters would follow: He's not running anymore; why'd you do the story? What public concern are his private business investments?
We did it because it's our job to report on people who affect public policy and the community. As journalists, we are not cheerleaders for one candidate or another; our job is to look at them with clear eyes and without an agenda, to provide information to readers they otherwise could not obtain themselves. This is a story that needed to be done given Shoval's quick ascension in the public's eye, regardless of whether he ran for the state Legislature.
Questions have been raised about the American Dream Home Ownership Program, a limited liability company Shoval started as a rent-to-own program to help people who are poor credit risks. This kind of program, while legal, is unregulated and very expensive for the renters because of high interest rates. It's also risky for the borrowers, because unlike conventional lending, they don't get title to the property until the loan is paid off. One of Shoval's deals, which Hoang's story examined, resulted in a lawsuit settled in favor of the buyer.
Shoval's involvement as a hedge fund manager in
His investment on
After learning what she could about Shoval's background, Hoang invited him to an interview to discuss his past, present and future. Shoval shared with her his perspective on how he has helped
The purpose of Hoang's story wasn't to judge whether Shoval has been right or wrong, but to provide information to readers so that they can draw their own conclusions. Ultimately, what we have found is the more that people learned about Shoval, the less they trusted him to represent them.
Shoval cited his poor polling numbers when he suspended his campaign, an explanation that raised as many questions as it answered, especially given the unease by critics about how he conducts business. There had to be reasons why someone with his prominence, his tax-measure victory and his fundraising lead was lagging so much in he polling.
Hoang's story sought to answer those questions and allowed him to tell his side of the story. His campaign may be over -- or at least suspended -- but his relevance to civic and business affairs in
-- Members of the
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