Sheheen releases 2013 tax returns, calls on Haley to release more of hers

COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s Democratic nominee for governor released his 2013 tax returns Monday and again called on Gov. Nikki Haley to release more of hers.

Sen. Vincent Sheheen’s total income last year was $333,000, while his taxable income was $306,000. Sheheen made nearly $110,000 more than in 2012 – but still $39,500 less than he did in 2009.

His campaign attributed that to fluctuations in his business. Eighty-five percent of his income in 2013 came from his Camden law partnership, while 10 percent came from rental property. He paid nearly $90,000 in state and federal taxes and gave about $19,400 to charities.

The 2013 returns are in addition to the three years’ worth he released last year and 10 years’ worth he released during his 2010 race against Haley. Sheheen says voters deserve transparency and accountability from their elected leaders.

“We deserve a governor willing to not just talk the talk,” he said.

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey called Monday’s release a political stunt.

The tax return releases of both Haley and Sheheen cover their years in office and initial election year. Haley, 42, was first elected to the state House in 2004. Sheheen, 43, was first elected to the House in 2000, then elected to the Senate beginning in 2004.

In 2010, Haley let reporters view six years of returns – three just before her Republican primary runoff and three more after Sheheen’s first challenge. In the last three years, she’s made her returns available each spring, but she has yet to do so for 2013.

Sheheen questioned her method. Haley has never allowed copies to be made or removed from her office, only viewed, while Sheheen has provided copies to reporters. He called on Haley to do the same.

In response, Haley’s campaign again accused Sheheen of hiding the details of his income by not disclosing his list of clients.

“It would be completely unethical to disclose my clients’ names,” Sheheen said. Breaking attorney-client privilege would require getting each client’s permission.

Haley’s campaign has criticized Sheheen’s escalating pay while in office, accusing him of profiting off the state. His clients have included injured state workers. His income has risen from $73,600 in 2000, when he won a state House seat at age 29. Sheheen has said the growth occurred as the practice matured and he took on a bigger role in the firm.

Haley’s family income rose from $65,700 in 2004, when she won her House seat, to $284,200 in 2012, which included an advance on her memoir.

By law, she earns $106,000 as governor.

Sheheen said Monday it’s Haley who received jobs because of being an elected official.

Haley earned more than $40,500 from 2007 to 2009 in consulting fees from Wilbur Smith Associates – a major government contractor. That became public when she made those tax records available during the 2010 GOP runoff.

The company said it paid Haley to generate business leads for non-state work. She worked as a fundraiser for Lexington Medical Center between August 2008 – when the hospital CEO created the $110,000-a-year job for her – and April 2010, when she negotiated a $30,000 severance agreement.

Godfrey continued to criticize Sheheen’s income as a “trial lawyer.” Ads by the Republican Governors Association, which attacked Sheheen for his previous work as a defense attorney, evoked widespread criticism from lawyers in both parties who called that line of attack un-American. In an unprecedented move, the nonpartisan South Carolina Bar – to which every attorney in the state belongs – launched a Web site in April defending the legal profession.

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