Government Salary Only Small Portion Of Shumlin's Income
Peter Shumlin has released his tax return from 2013. But Vermonters still know very little about the personal finances of their second-term governor. And government watchdogs say that’s a problem.
In 1978, members of Congress passed what’s known as the Ethics in Government Act. And it requires federal lawmakers to disclose to the public all kinds of details about their personal finances.
“So if they had stock in a company and also took action in Congress to benefit that company, that would be a problem that would then be evident, because they filed these disclosures,” says Viveca Novak, the editorial director of the Center for Responsive Politics.
Novak’s organization tries to spotlight the influence of money in politics. She says these kinds of disclosures help prevent politicians from using public dollars for personal gain.
“And it is part of, I think, ensuring public confidence in government,” she says. “And most states do have similar requirements.”
Vermont, notably, is not one of them. And while Gov. Peter Shumlin last week voluntarily turned over a portion of his IRS filings from 2013, it’s unclear where exactly the lion’s share of his $721,000 in total income is coming from.
The Democratic governor made about $128,000 in salary as governor. He took in an additional $231,000 in the forms of dividends and capital gains. But, unlike members of Congress, and most of his fellow governors, Shumlin doesn't have to identify what stocks or transactions earned him the six-figure return.
“I’ve just done what I’ve always done, which is in election years, I provide my tax returns to Vermonters and I’ve also this year provided a list of my net worth,” Shumlin said this week.
The Democratic governor made about $128,000 in salary as governor. He took in an additional $231,000 in the forms of dividends and capital gains. But, unlike members of Congress, and most of his fellow governors, Shumlin doesn’t have to identify what stocks or transactions earned him the six-figure return.
Also unlike other state and federal officeholders, Shumlin doesn’t have to – nor will he – disclose the source of about $349,000 in other income from last year. The money could have come from any number of places, including S corporations he might own, or real estate he manages and rents.
But Shumlin won’t say where exactly the money comes from. Also unclear is the extent to which Shumlin works for the businesses generating his income.
Shumlin has declined to disclose any data about his income in 2012.
“What I focus on every day is doing my job as governor,” Shumlin said this week, when asked why he chose not to make public that kind of information. “I have yet to have a Vermonter come up to me and say hey, can you give me your 2011 tax return. I just don’t think it’s on Vermonters’ minds.”
"I have yet to have a Vermonter come up to me and say hey, can you give me your 2011 tax return. I just don't think it's on Vermonters' minds." - Gov. Peter Shumlin
Libertarian candidate for governor Dan Feliciano this week disclosed tax returns detailing his and his wife’s income from 2012 and 2013. They averaged about $206,000 in annual income over that period, virtually all of which came from their day jobs – his with IBM Global Services; hers with SD Associates, a developmental services consultancy based in Williston.
Feliciano says he and his wife, Carol, were torn about making public such personal details.
“But we felt if we wanted to demonstrate we were sincere about this run that we’re pursuing, and it’s been done in the past … that we should do so too,” Feliciano says. “But I mean we struggled with the idea of actually releasing our tax returns.”
Feliciano has not released a list of his assets. GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne says he’ll release his tax returns from the last two years, as well as his assets, before Oct. 15.
Shumlin’s list of assets show a net worth of about $10 million. His holdings include 16 properties valued at about $3.8 million; $2.2 million in retirement funds; $3.2 million in stocks and cash; and $1 million in stock at Putney Student Travel, a company he co-owns with his brother.