While Pike County Democrat Phil Scollo’s campaign website promises to restore fiscal sanity to the nation, his own finances have been in crisis.
The Dingmans Ferry man, who is aggressively campaigning to unseat Republican Rep. Tom Marino, owes $44,000 in back taxes dating back as far as 2006, according to public records.
Knowing that his personal life could be exposed during the campaign, Scollo told the Pocono Record that he agonized before deciding to run for Congress.
Court documents show Scollo has federal tax liens totaling $40,000, and also owes $4,200 in personal income taxes to Pennsylvania.
“I am in an installment agreement to pay it back,” Scollo told the Pocono Record on Friday.
A similar public records search conducted by the Pocono Record found no liens or judgments outstanding against Marino.
In 2003, his wife, Karen Scollo, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
As the health battle raged on, things got expensive. It went from bad to worse when their health insurance company denied her coverage.
Scollo was, and still is, a self-employed consultant with an insurance, management and human resources background.
“I came out of the insurance industry. Most people don’t know how to fight the insurance company. I do,” Scollo said.
Even with that expertise, getting the health insurance restored was a long and difficult process.
During that time, the family’s money and attention was on Karen Scollo’s health.
The business suffered.
Also, the economy was faltering and clients were drying up.
Scollo’s consultant business, Milbridge Management, started in 1998, had done well in the first years, with an average yearly gross of around $175,000 and good years spiking to $350,000, he said.
“The last four or five years have been touch and go. And then I wound up getting sick in 2008,” Scollo said.
He needed surgery, and was unable to work for a time.
They burned through their savings, loaded up a credit card and started missing house payments.
The couple flirted with losing their home.
Will pay debt
In 2009, the mortgage on their house on Crocus Lane in Milford had a balance of $267,000 when foreclosure proceedings were started for nonpayment.
The foreclosure was discontinued in January 2010 after they scraped together enough to save the house.
“My wife has been so supportive,” Scollo said his voice cracking as he spoke through tears. “I don’t want to let her down.”
He explained that it is emotional to talk about the struggles they’ve been through.
“My wife is alive. I’m grateful for that. I’m going to pay my debt back,” Scollo said. “My story is not unique. It is the same story I am hearing all over the district. People are hurting, like me. Some have nothing.
“This country is going to hell. We need to keep fighting. People need representation. They need someone to look out for them. People are not looking for a handout. They are looking for work,” Scollo said.
As Scollo won the primary, his business, now with two clients, started to rebound.
He considered getting out of the race.
If he had, Scollo believes his company would be recovered by now.
Instead, he campaigns during the day and works at night to keep the business moving forward with another goal: to serve a segment of voters whose needs he says he understands personally.