Governor candidate Caron made nearly $1 million last year; Moody’s income is under wraps

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Three of the four candidates in the race to be Maine’s next governor released copies of their state and federal tax returns at the request of the Portland Press Herald on Friday, and independent candidate Alan Caron reported the highest income, $912,952, in 2017 and paid $190,193 in state and federal taxes.

Republican Shawn Moody, whose campaign bills him as a self-made millionaire, refused to release his returns.

Tax returns for the other independent in the race, State Treasurer Terry Hayes, show that she and her husband earned $89,440 and paid combined state and federal taxes of $12,885 in 2017. Democratic candidate and Maine Attorney General Janet Mills requested an extension with the Internal Revenue Service and has not filed her 2017 tax returns yet. A copy of her extension request, which usually requires an estimate of earnings and taxes, did not include those estimates.

Her 2016 returns show that she earned $114,175 that year and paid $26,322 in combined state and federal income taxes.

At the Press Herald’s request, the three candidates provided returns for five tax years, 2013 through 2017.

Though Moody didn’t release his returns, his campaign shared a “Statement of Sources of Income for Executive Employees,” the state form that lists his business interests. The form, which Moody would have to file with the state ethics commission if he wins the election, includes no information about his income or taxes.

Caron’s returns show his income in 2017 included $106,827 in salaries and $816,903 in capital gains. The capital gains were from the sale of stock, campaign spokesman Tom Bell said. Caron and his wife, Kristina Egan, also reported donations of $235,480 to charity in 2017. Caron has largely self-funded his campaign, contributing $485,000 of the $534,655 his campaign has raised, so far, according to the latest campaign finance reports available with the Maine Ethics Commission. Egan is employed as the executive director of the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

Caron said the stock sale was done largely to fund the campaign. “You’ll see in these returns a significant spike in our income in 2017, primarily from capital gains, as we converted some of our investments to cash in order to run what has been largely a self-funded campaign free of special-interest money,” he wrote in an email.

The form submitted by Moody shows four businesses that he owns, including a chain of 11 auto body repair shops that are partially owned by his employees, a real estate holding company and two other companies involved in what appears to be renewable energy and recycling. Moody also disclosed that he has been paid by the state for auto body repair work on vehicles used by state police and the Department of Transportation, as well as work for the Maine Municipal Association.

Hayes said she believed it was important to disclose her sources of income. Before becoming state treasurer, Hayes made less than $20,000.

“Like a lot of Mainers, I have often worked more than one job at a time to pay the bills,” she said. “It’s important to me to declare my income from all sources so the Maine people can place their trust in me to serve as our next governor with the knowledge that I represent all the people.”

Congressional precedent

Open Checkbook, a state database of spending, shows that Moody’s company, Moody’s Collision Centers, has been paid $3,025 so far in 2018 for repairing state vehicles. Moody also is reimbursed for his mileage for his work as a trustee on the boards of the University of Maine System and the Maine Community College System.

Moody’s campaign spokeswoman, Lauren LePage, daughter of Republican Gov. Paul LePage, wrote in an email that in withholding his tax returns from the public, Moody was following precedent set by Maine’s congressional delegation, “and going over and above what has been done in the past.”

Sen. Angus King of Maine released his return when he ran in 2012, as did his Democratic opponent, Cynthia Dill. But the entire delegation, including King, Republican Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Rep Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, refused to release their tax returns in 2016, although Collins called on Trump to do so that year. All but Collins are up for re-election this year.

Trump has refused to release his tax records, breaking four decades of presidential tradition.

In 2014, all three candidates in the Maine governor’s race, including Paul LePage, Democrat Mike Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler, released redacted copies of their returns to the media.

Only Vermont has a law requiring candidates for governor to release their tax returns. It’s being used for the first time this year after being passed in 2017, but there are no penalties for ignoring it – as did one candidate who appeared on the state’s primary ballot in August.

Lawmakers in more than two dozen states, including Maine, introduced legislation last year that would have required presidential candidates to release their tax returns as a condition of getting on the ballot. None of those became law, in part because of constitutional concerns, and two were vetoed.

Even without a requirement, in a nod to transparency, it has become customary in some states for gubernatorial candidates to release their tax returns, or at least partial returns, as it has been in U.S. presidential contests. Trump’s refusal led to questions about his wealth, debts and, amid the ongoing investigation into Russian election interference, whether he has financial ties to Russian interests.

‘I have a tent’

Refusing to release the returns has become an issue in several other governor’s races, including Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa and New Mexico.

Beyond income earned from their work or businesses, all four candidates also own homes in Maine, and Mills and Moody also own other properties.

Caron’s only property is his home in Freeport, which he owns with his wife. It is valued at $424,000, and the couple paid $6,338 in property taxes, according to town tax records.

Moody’s Gorham home, which he owns with his wife, Christina, is valued at $352,800 – he takes a homestead exemption valued at $20,000. His property tax bill for 2018 was $5,690.88. Moody also pays property taxes on eight other properties, including some with buildings valued at $648,800 in Gorham with property taxes totaling $11,091.

One of his companies, Moody’s Co-Worker Owned Inc., also has a property without a building valued at $902,000, and another of his companies, Moody’s Collision Centers Inc., also owns a parcel valued at $56,900. The taxes on the two parcels combined are $16,412.

Mills’ Farmington home is valued at $156,000 – she takes a homestead exemption valued at $21,000. Her property tax bill for 2018 was $3,052.92, town records show. Mills also appears to own three rental properties, two in Farmington and one in Augusta, based on her tax returns.

Hayes’s Buckfield home is valued at $111,000 – she takes a homestead exemption valued at $20,000. Her property tax bill for 2018 was $2034.76, according to town records. Hayes owns no other property.

“I consider myself to be a part owner in all of Maine’s public lands and I have a tent,” Hayes said.

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