Paladino ran for Governor of New York in the 2010 election. He pulled off an upset by winning the Republican primary over Rick Lazio, but lost in a landslide to Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the general election, 63% to 33%. Paladino's candidacy was supported by the Tea Party movement and by support in his native Western New York; his campaign platform emphasized fiscal reform and improvement of the state's educational system.
Paladino was elected to the South Buffalo seat on the school board of Buffalo Public Schools in 2013, and reelected in 2016. In December 2016 his remarks about President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were called “unambiguously racist, morally repugnant, flagrantly disrespectful, inflammatory and inexcusable” by the school board in a resolution demanding his resignation. The New York State Education Department ousted him from the seat on August 17, 2017, following a public hearing, for publicly disclosing confidential information obtained in executive session.
Paladino's parents emigrated from Italy to the United States. His father participated in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Paladino was raised in the Lovejoy District of Buffalo and attended Bishop Timon – St. Jude High School in South Buffalo. Paladino attended St. Bonaventure University and the Syracuse University College of Law. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1971. He spent three months on active duty in the United States Army and approximately ten years in the reserve, separating in 1981 at the rank of Captain. Paladino founded Ellicott Development Co. in 1973; the company buys properties, builds stores, and leases them to national retail outlets and government agencies. The company has operations in Western New York, Central New York and portions of Pennsylvania.
Paladino is part of the consortium that acquired the Fort Erie Race Track in August 2014.
In addition to his business developments, Paladino also is a senior managing partner in the law firm of Paladino, Cavan and Quinlivin, a firm that specializes in corporate and real estate law.
Paladino registered with the Democratic Party in 1974 and remained there until 2005. Later that year, after the retirement of Buffalo mayor Anthony Masiello, Paladino changed to the Republican Party, his current affiliation. Paladino and several limited partnerships controlled by him have donated to numerous political candidates and organizations, both Democratic and Republican. During his time as a Democrat, he generally considered himself a conservative Reagan Democrat in the mold of former Buffalo mayor James D. Griffin and former New York governor Hugh Carey; Paladino's campaign site features a 1980s picture of himself alongside former President Ronald Reagan.
Paladino helped lead a campaign to remove the toll barriers on Interstate 190 in the mid-2000s. After finding a state law that required the state to remove the tolls once the bonds for that portion of the thruway had been paid off (which took place in 1996), Paladino threatened to sue, and the Thruway Authority removed the tolls.
In 2009, Paladino involved himself on behalf of South Buffalo councilman Michael Kearns in Buffalo's Democratic primary mayoral election, campaigning against incumbent Byron Brown. He again endorsed Kearns in the New York State Assembly race to replace current Buffalo city comptroller Mark J. F. Schroeder in 2012.
In October 2011, Paladino filed a lawsuit against National Grid and Verizon (the primary electric and telephone utilities in Western New York, respectively) for what Paladino alleged were exorbitant fees the two companies charged for services, alleging that the New York State Public Service Commission failed to prevent "collusion, overbilling, mis-billing and fraud".
Paladino filed a lawsuit against Buffalo Public Schools in July 2012, citing abuse of executive session and lack of transparency in the process of awarding a contract to the district's new superintendent. The lawsuit was thrown out of court within a week of its filing; Paladino plans on appealing the decision.
On April 5, 2010, Paladino officially entered the race for Governor of New York. Tom Ognibene, the former minority leader of the New York City Council, was his chosen running mate. Michael Caputo was Paladino's manager for the campaign. John Haggerty, who is currently under investigation for funneling money between Michael Bloomberg and the Independence Party of New York, was in charge of circulating petitions. Roger Stone acted as a supporter and advisor for the campaign and stated that despite his earlier agreement to work as the campaign manager for another candidate, Kristin Davis, that Davis is a protest candidate and Paladino is the one Stone wants to win; Stone recommended Caputo, a former employee of his, to the Paladino campaign. Tom Golisano, an American businessman and philanthropist who ran three gubernatorial campaigns on third-party lines, is also advising the campaign.
Paladino vied with Rick Lazio, Steve Levy, and Myers Mermel for the Republican nomination. At the state Republican convention, Paladino received 8 percent of the weighted vote; only delegates from Erie and Orleans counties voted for him. He fell short of the 25 percent needed for automatic ballot access. Paladino had 3,000 volunteers circulating petitions in an effort to force a primary election. With a legal minimum requirement of 15,000 signatures to force a primary, he aimed for 40,000 signatures and submitted 28,000, enough of which were valid.
In the primary election on September 14, 2010, Paladino, with heavy support in his native Western New York, defeated Lazio. In the primary for lieutenant governor, however, Ognibene, who had been selected by Paladino, lost to Lazio's choice, Greg Edwards. The Paladino-Edwards ticket competed in November against Democrat Andrew Cuomo and his running mate, Robert Duffy, as well as several minor-party candidates.
Paladino originally planned on seeking the nomination of the Conservative Party of New York but dropped out of that nomination battle because party chairman Michael Long allowed him only two minutes of speech time to make his case. As a result, he skipped the party convention and was unable to garner enough support to get the Conservative Party's nomination, with that going to Rick Lazio. In Paladino's place on the primary ballot was Ralph Lorigo, the chairman of the Erie County Conservative Party and a supporter of Paladino's campaign. Lorigo, being a party member, only needed 25% of the weighted vote at the party's convention on May 28, 2010 to get on the primary ballot instead of the majority required by non-party members. Lorigo joined forces with Steve Levy's supporters to get 42% of the weighted vote. Lorigo and Lazio faced off in the September primary. If Lorigo had won the primary, he could have moved out of state or accepted a nomination for a New York State Supreme Court judgeship, clearing the line and allowing the Conservative Party to pick someone else through a committee. Family members of Paladino's campaign ran Lorigo's campaign, including Paladino's brother, Joseph Paladino, and Caputo's father, Raymond Caputo. Lazio defeated Lorigo in the Conservative primary by a 60–40 margin, only to drop out two weeks later. Long later indicated he would endorse Paladino and encourage his allies to nominate him as Lazio's replacement. Lazio was nominated by the Bronx Republican Party for a state Supreme Court judgeship, legally enabling him to be removed from the Conservative line as a gubernatorial candidate.
Paladino held a two-week boat tour at the end of May 2010 along the Erie Canal to acquaint himself with the rest of upstate New York. He began a television and radio advertising campaign in July of that year, including local TV stations as well as national ads on the Fox News Channel. He frequently called for debates, first with Lazio (who declined) and then with Cuomo; Paladino stated that he encouraged minor-party candidates to be included in debates, echoing a call from Howie Hawkins and Warren Redlich, two of the minor-party candidates in the race, to be included in debates. All seven candidates were scheduled to debate on October 18. Paladino had indicated a willingness to spend more than $10,000,000 of his own personal wealth on his campaign, with much of that spending being recycled to Ellicott Development Co.
Paladino also planned on founding a "Taxpayers Party" line, which also fielded David Malpass and Gary Berntsen for Senate candidates (both dropped out of their races, leading the party to nominate Joseph J. DioGuardi as Malpass's replacement), Rus Thompson for comptroller, and will not field an attorney general candidate. The goal of the line was to give potential Republican candidates who were not selected by the Conservative Party an additional ballot line; as such, the organization did not back an attorney general candidate and is only running a token comptroller candidate (Thompson's own Web site did not even mention his candidacy), because Republican nominees Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. and Harry Wilson already have Conservative Party endorsements and the party did not seek to divide the Republican and Conservative vote further on these lines. Paladino's campaign submitted 30,000 signatures for the Taxpayers line on August 10, 2010. The line drew interest from other potential candidates for state office, and several state legislature candidates filed petitions under the "Taxpayers" banner.
Preliminary results showed Paladino earning 1,406,382 votes, or 34% of the total tally. He finished second to Andrew Cuomo, who had 61% of the vote. Paladino won all eight counties in the Buffalo media market but only a few counties outside of that region, all of which were rural counties in upstate New York. Paladino helped propel the Conservative Party into third place on the ballot for the first time since losing the line in 1998, retaking the ballot line from the Independence Party of New York by drawing more votes on the Conservative line than Andrew Cuomo did on the Independence line. The Taxpayers line failed to achieve 50,000 votes, in part due to poor ballot location (the line was last on the ballot and on most ballots was placed in a second column). Paladino's strong showing also propelled Erie County into first place in the New York Republican Party's vote weighting; its votes will count 11.53% in state party votes, up from the previous 6.98%. After the election, Paladino indicated that it would be the last one in which he would be a candidate. Paladino, who lives in the 27th congressional district, was considering a run in the New York's 26th congressional district special election, 2011, but later ruled out a run for that seat, endorsing eventual Republican nominee Jane Corwin, who lost to Kathleen Hochul.
Paladino's campaign platform emphasized regressive fiscal reform in Albany and gutting of the state's educational system.
Paladino planned to use interpretations of the Constitution of the State of New York to declare a fiscal state of emergency, which he would then use to freeze compensation of state, municipal and school employees and cut the state budget by 10 to 20 percent. He proposed closing off welfare services to those who come from out of state to receive benefits, by placing a minimum residency requirement of one year before anyone could claim state benefits. He sought to cut the state's Medicaid budget by nearly 30%, or $20 billion ($10 billion from the state's share, the other $10 billion coming from the county and federal shares) by making significant cuts to benefits, reducing reimbursement rates, requiring identification, fingerprints and drug testing in order to receive benefits, and training family members to take care of people who would otherwise be in long-term care. He planned to eliminate state capital gains taxes and corporate franchise taxes, at a cost of approximately $1 billion.
In the past, Paladino has called for a constitutional convention to make changes in the state constitution, which, he argued, creates a welfare state and contributes to many of the state's problems. He has proposed increasing the frequency of constitutional convention referendums, currently set for every 20 years with the next one scheduled for 2017, down to 10 years, with the next one moved up to 2011. He has also expressed distaste for public service labor unions, which he has compared to pigs, and is an outspoken critic of state laws such as the Wicks Law, which sets prevailing wage requirements, and the Taylor Law, which gives unions significant negotiating advantages in exchange for prohibiting them from striking. He promised to take a hard line in negotiations with unions, whose contracts expire in April 2011, and would have refused to grant them favorable conditions. Non-union employees would have seen immediate pay cuts of 10 percent. He supported current governor David Paterson's efforts to furlough state employees. In the event of a late budget, he would have shut down most levels of government except those related to public health and safety. Paladino would have first targeted what he considered to be patronage jobs for elimination; i.e., those who, according to him, received their jobs as political favors and through family connections. Deputy commissioners would be another target for elimination. He would also have relied on the state's rank and file to target persons "incapable for whatever reason of performing their functions at a cost productive level", and hoped to eliminate 60,000 jobs from the state workforce through these reductions. He would have sought to eliminate numerous perks such as state-owned take-home vehicles. He sought to institute a merit-based pay system and end automatic raises. Paladino favored what he called "school choice", saying it would "put some competition in the marketplace" against the New York State United Teachers. Paladino also supported converting some minimum security prisons into Civilian Conservation Corps-style job camps for unemployed youth, which he dubbed the "Dignity Corps", a program he based on both the CCC and the work of a local mission in Buffalo.
He supported proposals to enforce excise tax laws on Indian tribes such as the Iroquois, who have so far refused to pay said taxes and promised severe punishment if the tribes protested, stating: "The fact that the past three governors have neglected to go up and enforce the law because they're afraid of somebody standing on top of a police car or they're afraid of somebody burning some tires in the street, that's not me. Let one of them stand on top of a police car in my administration, it would be the last time they stood on top of a police car." He believes the tribes are run by a cabal of "fifteen to twenty thugs" who are using their price advantage to benefit themselves and not the general populace of their reservations. He supports the review and potential revocation of land claims given to the Iroquois; in particular, he believes the Turning Stone Resort & Casino is operating illegally and should be shut down. Ellicott Development Co. had sold the land where the current Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino stands for between US$1,300,000 and US$3,750,000, and Paladino claims he only received $47,000 from the Seneca nation for the land and that the plans for the casino were far different than the ones that were proposed at the time, incorporating hotels and restaurants that Paladino opposes.
Paladino supports hard term limits of eight years on all elected officials within the state's jurisdiction, including county and local governments. He also desires to see their positions declared "part time" and as such ineligible for a state pension or lifetime medical coverage; in addition, he opposes automatic cost of living adjustment increases and seeks to force legislators to take an up or down vote on their own pay raises. He would seek a complete reorganization of the state education department and encourages dissolution of the Board of Regents, the SUNY Board of Trustees, the Lower Manhattan Development Agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Off-Track Betting Corporation, the Adirondack Park Agency, and the New York Power Authority. Similarly, the state Department of Transportation would, under Paladino's proposal, absorb the currently independent Thruway Authority and the Bridge and Tunnel Authorities. Paladino has proposed the use of repeatedly calling special sessions to pressure uncooperative legislators into passing his legislation, much as current governor Paterson did during the 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis and the 2010 budget negotiations. He supports moving the due date of the state budget, currently set for April 1, back to July 1 so that tax revenue can be better evaluated. He also proposes supermajority approval of any tax increase. At the local government level, he would consolidate the operations of most school districts at the county level, with a single appointed superintendent, and also consolidate other local town and village operations at that level. He is currently considering a solution for districts that span multiple counties. He does not support a reduction in operational aid for school districts and believes the budget can be balanced without reducing that aid. In response to criticisms regarding Paladino's existing leases to the state, he has stated that he is willing to renegotiate the prices he charges for the leases once they expire, and he would put most of his assets in trust, turning over operations of the company to his son. (Ellicott Development Co.'s leases currently charge a "below average" rate as it is, according to the state.) He is willing to support a hard property tax cap, such as the one Cuomo proposes, if it is part of a broader effort to cut spending. Some of these proposals would require amendments to the state constitution. In an open letter to Assemblywoman Janet Duprey announcing his support of challenger Karen Bisso, Paladino indicated that the "tier 6" pension reforms implemented by the Cuomo administration were wholly inadequate and "nothing more than hype".
Paladino, who has a handgun permit and "carries wherever it is legal", is strongly in favor of firearm ownership and Second Amendment rights; he seeks to repeal the New York State Assault Weapon Ban. He has participated in rallies against the NY SAFE Act.
He personally opposes same-sex marriage; he also states that he does not particularly care for the issue. He has spoken negatively of the concept of gay pride, particularly the sexual demonstrations at gay pride parades, which he believes are unsuitable for children. In a speech to a group of Hasidic Jews organized by Yehuda Levin on 10 October 2010, Paladino said, "I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don't want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option—it isn't." He later stated that he did not agree with the statement and had not fully proofread the speech before he read it. He has said he would take a more libertarian stance on the matter in regard to state policy; he follows a "live and let live" approach to the topic of homosexuality, actively opposes discrimination against homosexuals, and encourages a statewide referendum on allowing same-sex marriage in the state, saying that he would honor the result of said referendum. If the state legislature were to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage or civil unions without a referendum, he would veto it. He has accused Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of the Marriage Equality Act of selling out their votes.
He is pro-life and favors adoption over abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Abortion would not be a legislative priority if he were to be elected, but he would continue to personally advocate against abortion. He opposes allowing minors to abort a pregnancy without the permission or notification of the minor's parents; he has also castigated lawmakers who have voted in favor of allowing late-term abortions past 24 weeks.
Palladino states that he was firmly in favor of drilling in the Marcellus Formation.
Palladino opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, and said that he believes that the long-term impact of the act would be just as memorable and possibly more deadly than the September 11 attacks. If elected, he stated he would file a lawsuit to have the law overturned.
Paladino does not object to raising the minimum wage. He does object to excessive regulations on businesses. One regulation he does support is the elimination of food trucks in the city of Buffalo, in part because they do not have the requirement of paying property taxes as brick-and-mortar businesses must, giving the mobile vendors an advantage that Paladino believes is unfair.
Paladino pledged himself to one term in office and, like fellow businessmen-turned-politicians Chris Collins and Michael Bloomberg, would forgo collecting his salary if elected. He stated that he would then endorse his lieutenant governor for the 2014 gubernatorial election.
With regard to a planned Islamic community center two blocks from the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City, in late July, 2010, Paladino issued a radio ad which stated, "As Governor, I will use the power of eminent domain to stop this mosque and make the site a war memorial instead of a monument to those who attacked our country." He added that the mosque should not be built within a range of "the dust cloud containing human remains [of the 9/11 victims] traveled".
In April 2010, a local progressive Web site released a series of racist and sexually explicit e-mails that purported to be from Paladino. Paladino acknowledged some of them were indeed circulated by him among a circle of friends, mostly in the construction industry. Campaign manager Michael Caputo initially stated that the authenticity of some of the e-mails could not be verified and continues to maintain that the e-mails were "of questionable origin;" the site themselves could not identify the anonymous source of the e-mails and was only able to verify them through a series of cc: addresses included with the package of e-mails. Paladino acknowledged that some of the e-mails were authentic, but denied that he originated any of them, saying that he was nevertheless "somewhat careless" about forwarding them to others Paladino admitted many of these emails were "off-color" and could be considered offensive, took responsibility for them, and apologized.
In a statement to Politico on September 29, 2010, Paladino asked why the media was concerned with any of his extramarital affairs, and not asking similar questions of Andrew Cuomo. New York Post columnist Fredric U. Dicker confronted Paladino at a meeting of the New York State Business Council later that evening and insisted that Paladino produce evidence about any accusations against Cuomo, but Paladino then alleged the Post had followed and photographed Paladino's daughter several days prior to the appearance, and demanded that Dicker not do it again or he would "take him out". Paladino later said he did not know of any actual affairs of Cuomo, and that the implication was not intended.
The New York Post's editor in chief, Col Allen, in a statement released on Politico, said the Post did not send a photographer to the house of Paladino's daughter. Two days later, Allen admitted to sending photographer Christopher Sadowski and reporter Amber Sutherland to the 10-year old's house on two occasions but said the New York Post would not print the photographs their staff snapped of the child from outside the house. After the first visit, Sutherland wrote a story featuring photographs of the young girl's mother in the New York Post. Michael Caputo claimed he spoke to Sutherland who confirmed Dicker was her "team leader" for coverage of the child. Paladino told New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser to clear Sutherland and Sadowski away from the child's windows before resuming an interview with her in Queens, and Peyser called Fred Dicker in front of Paladino to get that done.
In October 2010, Paladino was criticized for anti-gay remarks to Orthodox rabbis in Borough Park, Brooklyn. The speech was discovered to have been prepared by Rabbi Yehuda Levin.
Paladino apologized for his comments, saying that "The portrayal of me as anti-gay is inconsistent with my lifelong beliefs and actions and my prior history as an father, employer and friend to many in the gay and lesbian community." The following day, Paladino said he meant what he had said, but regretted not wording it differently. In response to this apology, Rabbi Levin rescinded his endorsement of Paladino.
In response to the controversies, Paladino said: "This the first time I have ever run for public office and yes, I let things get out of hand. It's my responsibility. Nobody else's. I have also learned what monsters the press can be."
Paladino endorsed Newt Gingrich in the 2012 presidential election and campaigned for him in New Hampshire. He also campaigned for Gingrich in New York; Paladino's impact was noted in Niagara, Cattaraugus and Wyoming Counties, counties that Paladino had carried in 2010; Gingrich, despite no longer being a serious contender for the nomination, polled strongly enough to prevent Romney (who was already the presumptive nominee at the time) from gaining a majority in those counties.
Paladino continued to make endorsements for the New York State senate elections, selecting three primary opponents against incumbent Republicans: Kevin Stocker against Mark Grisanti, Neil DeCarlo against Stephen Saland, and Johnny Destino against George Maziarz. All three candidates lost.
In February 2013, Paladino announced his candidacy for the South Buffalo seat on the school board of Buffalo Public Schools. A longtime vocal critic of the school board, Paladino chose to run in opposition of teachers union head Phil Rumore and superintendent Pamela Brown, whose hiring (as well as every other non-interim superintendent hire in the past two decades) Paladino has speculated was at least partially motivated by race. In the May 2016 election, Paladino defeated Adrian Harris by a 4 to 1 margin, and was sworn in on July 1.
In May 2016, Paladino won reelection to the School Board, defeating 18-year old Austin Harig of South Buffalo, a Hutchinson Central Technical High School senior. Paladino won by 132 votes. Although Paladino won reelection, several of his allies on the board lost reelection, and Paladino went from being part of a 5-4 majority to being part of a 6-3 minority. Harig won the support of the Buffalo Teachers Federation and AFL-CIO, while Paladino received the endorsement of The Buffalo News editorial board, which wrote: "Despite all his defects – his offensive comments, his bullying, his sometime inability to function effectively on the board – it is because of his influence that the board is even interested in turning around an underperforming district." Shortly after losing the race, Harig was arrested.
On December 23, 2016, Paladino took part in an interview with alternative weekly newspaper Artvoice. When asked what he would like to see happen in 2017, Paladino replied it was President Barack Obama dying of mad cow disease, stating: "Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Her[e]ford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to [senior White House advisor] Valerie Jarret[t], who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady [sic] cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her." After then being asked "what he would most like to see go in 2017", he replied: "Michelle Obama. I'd like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla."
The statements sparked backlash and outrage. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement calling Paladino's remarks "racist, ugly, reprehensible remarks," while Buffalo School Board president Barbara Nevergold called for Paladino to be ousted from his position, arguing that if a student had made Paladino's comments on social media, they would have been suspended. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz called for Paladino to resign and Trump's transition team called his comments "absolutely reprehensible".
On December 23, Paladino was contacted by The Buffalo News, who enquired whether he really made the comments. Paladino replied "of course I did" and told the editors to "go fuck themselves" for making the enquiry. Paladino later posted a "defiant" apology on Facebook.
On December 28, 2017, the school board demanded Paladino's ouster in a December 2016 resolution signed by six members of the nine-member board. The resolution stated: "These unambiguously racist, morally repugnant, flagrantly disrespectful, inflammatory and inexcusable comments by Mr. Paladino have garnered both local, national, and international attention that reflects negatively on the Buffalo Board of Education, the City of Buffalo and its leadership and its citizens." The resolution called upon State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to remove Paladino if he refused to resign. Under state law, the Education Commissioner may remove a Board member for office for a violation of the law or willful neglect of duty; the Board argues that Paladino's statement violates the Dignity for All Students Act, "which requires school districts to provide students with an environment free of discrimination, harassment and bullying."
Subsequently, four groups filed separate petitions to Elia to remove Paladino from office: (1) the school board; (2) the teachers' union (the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the New York State United Teachers); the (3) Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization and Buffalo NAACP chapter; and (4) the District Parent Coordinating Council. Two petitions also sought, as an interim measure, the immediate suspension of Paladino's functions as a board member. Several of the petitions argue for Paladino's removal on the basis of his public sharing of information discussed in executive session related to negotiations for a new contract with Buffalo teachers.
In February 2017, Elia declined to immediately suspend Paladino from the board, as the State Education Department continued to review the petitions seeking Paladino's permanent removal. In April 2017, Paladino filed papers with the commissioner seeking a delay in the administrative hearings against him while he pursues a lawsuit claiming a conspiracy to remove him from the school board. Demonstrators have continued to advocate for Paladino's removal.
After the public hearing, Elia announced Paladino's removal from the board on August 17, 2017, effective immediately, citing the violation of executive session rules.
Paladino endorsed Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election and was the New York co-chair of Trump's campaign. Paladino aggressively pushed and threatened Republicans in New York's delegation to Congress and the State Legislature to support Trump, writing in an open letter: "This is our last request that you join 'Trump for President' and try to preserve what's left of your pathetic careers in government." He also threatened delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention if they did not vote for Trump as pledged: "I don’t trust our entire delegation (...) I'd certainly whack them if they went off the reservation."
In July 2016, Paladino called for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to be lynched on Twitter, and then deleted his tweet. An aide said he had sent it had been sent in error. He also threatened delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention if they did not vote for Trump as pledged: "I don't trust our entire delegation (...) I'd certainly whack them if they went off the reservation."
In August 2016, Paladino falsely claimed in an interview with the New York Observer that President Barack Obama was a secret Muslim, repeating a debunked conspiracy theory. Paladino's remarks were widely condemned.
Despite supporting Trump, Paladino has not donated any money to Trump's campaign.
Paladino resides in the South Buffalo portion of the city of Buffalo, and is married to Mary Catherine Hannon. The two met at the Motel DeSoto in Allegany, which he later bought and demolished after it fell into disrepair. They had three children: William Paladino, Danielle Jacobs, and Patrick Paladino (who died March 30, 2009, from injuries received in an automobile accident). Paladino also has a teenage daughter from an extramarital relationship with his former employee, Suzanne Brady. He has five grandchildren. He owns a pit bull named Duke, which he has taken with him on his campaign stops.
During his concession speech, Paladino gave a heartfelt address to his late son, Patrick. Nancy Naples, chairwoman of the Paladino campaign told The New York Times that Paladino gained a feeling of emotional closure through his gubernatorial campaign. Paladino had stated that running for governor was something his son wanted him to do.
Paladino was honored in 1991 by the City of Buffalo as Buffalonian of the Year and in 1993 as Alumnus of the Year by St. Bonaventure University.