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ICYMI: York Dispatch: EDITORIAL: Transparency, if not the law, demands that Scott Wagner release his tax returns

Using his disdain for unions as a phony excuse for not releasing his tax returns is a slap in the face to every taxpayer in the state — especially for union workers.

* Using his disdain for unions as a phony excuse for not releasing his tax returns is a slap in the face to every taxpayer in the state — especially for union workers.

* However, we do believe the public — the folks he hopes to serve — should know as much as possible about his assets, so we can determine if there are some areas that may present a conflict. It’s a simple matter of transparency.

* So how about it, Mr. Wagner? Why not release your tax returns and prove you have nothing hide? The voters of Pennsylvania will be watching.

ICYMI: York Dispatch: EDITORIAL: Transparency, if not the law, demands that Scott Wagner release his tax returns


Scott Wagner is right about one thing — he is under no legal obligation to release his tax returns.

Ethically, however, the Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania should follow a tradition of transparency.

In recent decades, most gubernatorial nominees have, when asked, released part or all of their federal tax returns.

It’s obvious by now, however, that Wagner is not like most candidates of recent vintage.

That became painfully obvious recently when he was asked about releasing his returns. The owner of Penn Waste Inc., a nonunion, waste-hauling business in York County, fairly bristled in his response.

“If I make money or don’t make money that’s my business,” Wagner said during a question-and-answer session in Erie, an exchange captured on video by the Democratic party. “And you know what? If I disclose those tax returns, union representatives get a hold of my tax returns, go around to my employees’ homes at night and say, ‘Hey Mrs. Jones, how much does your husband make?’ She goes, ‘Well he makes this.’ ‘Well this guy makes a lot more.’”

A union critic: Wagner’s answer is hardly surprising. During his four years in the state Senate, Wagner often lambasted organized labor. He also supports “right-to-work” legislation — a measure that unions strongly oppose because it would prohibit them from collecting dues from employees who refuse to join the union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Using his disdain for unions as a phony excuse for not releasing his tax returns is a slap in the face to every taxpayer in the state — especially for union workers.

Taxpayers need to know about potential conflicts: Taxpayers need to know if candidates have financial interests that may present a conflict of interest if and when they assume office. That’s because our lawmakers have a great public trust — spending our precious tax dollars.

If you want to assume that trust, you should also be willing to assume the responsibility that comes with it — namely making your financial interests an open book.

Wagner clearly does not want to do that. For a private citizen, that’s perfectly fine. For a potential governor of a state with an annual budget north of $32 billion, it’s not fine.

The voters of Pennsylvania should make that clear to Wagner.

Not a requirement: Yes, we know Wagner is not required to release his taxes. Rather, candidates are only required to file “statements of financial interest” with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission. Wagner has done that.

Those documents require candidates to list sources of income, as well as enterprises in which they have a financial stake or to which they owe money, but not how much money they receive in income. A statement of financial interest is not nearly as revealing as a tax return, say accountants and government watchdogs.

A man of sizable means: Wagner has reported nearly 30 sources of income and Penn Waste reported $75 million in revenue last year. That’s a sizable financial portfolio. We’re not begrudging Wagner his money. He’s earned it.

However, we do believe the public — the folks he hopes to serve — should know as much as possible about his assets, so we can determine if there are some areas that may present a conflict.

It’s a simple matter of transparency.

Wolf pledges to release his return: His Democratic opponent, incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf, is also a man of significant means. Unlike Wagner, however, Wolf has pledged to release the first two pages of his tax return and then open up the rest of it to reporters after it is filed. Wolf has sought an extension of his 2017 return.

Wolf did something similar during his first gubernatorial run in 2014, when he beat then-Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who also released a tax return.

So how about it, Mr. Wagner? Why not release your tax returns and prove you have nothing hide?

The voters of Pennsylvania will be watching.

 

Read the piece here.

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ICYMI: Your Erie: No tax returns: Wagner says he doesn’t want his workers to know how much money he makes

Republican candidate for governor Scott Wagner is campaigning on a promise to “protect your paychecks,” but the businessman turned politician is refusing to release his tax returns.

* Republican candidate for governor Scott Wagner is campaigning on a promise to “protect your paychecks,” but the businessman turned politician is refusing to release his tax returns.

* Jim Wertz, Erie County Democratic Party, says, “This is indicative, not only of the candidate and the campaign, but the way Scott Wagner would govern as well. If as a candidate he’s gonna operate with this level of secrecy, what would we expect from his administration?”

* Multiple reports indicate the candidate believes his tax returns are no one else’s business, adding that he doesn’t want his workers to know how much money he makes.


ICYMI: Your Erie: No tax returns: Wagner says he doesn’t want his workers to know how much money he makes

It’s three months until election day and some voters are raising concerns about what information they haven’t been given.

Republican candidate for governor Scott Wagner is campaigning on a promise to “protect your paychecks,” but the businessman turned politician is refusing to release his tax returns.

Leaders from the local Republican and Democratic parties share their thoughts on Wagner’s decision.

Verel Salmon, Erie County Republican Committee, “He is involved with many, many businesses. The complexity of the thing is incredible. He’s an honest player and he’s reported everything that is required to be reported.”  

Jim Wertz, Erie County Democratic Party, says, “This is indicative, not only of the candidate and the campaign, but the way Scott Wagner would govern as well. If as a candidate he’s gonna operate with this level of secrecy, what would we expect from his administration?”

Multiple reports indicate the candidate believes his tax returns are no one else’s business, adding that he doesn’t want his workers to know how much money he makes.

 

Read the piece here.

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ICYMI: PennLive: GOP guv candidate Wagner renews call to defund Planned Parenthood. It’s still a bad idea

During a speech to the monthly Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon Wagner underlined his support for cutting off the flow of taxpayer dollars to the women’s health organization Planned Parenthood.

* During a speech to the monthly Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon Wagner underlined his support for cutting off the flow of taxpayer dollars to the women’s health organization Planned Parenthood.

* Wagner is a co-sponsor of a Senate bill that would effectively defund Planned Parenthood by moving it to the back of the line for any state funding. The organization, which provides an array of women’s health services, largely treats low-income and Medicaid recipients.

* Before his exit from the Senate, Wagner signed on as a co-sponsor of a series of bills that would restrict access, including a Wolf-vetoed bill that would have banned abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy; outlawed a common, second-trimester procedure, and criminally punished doctors who performed it.

* Among the bills Wagner also backed was a so-called “heartbeat” bill, which would ban abortions at as early as six weeks, which is before most women even know that they’re pregnant.


ICYMI: PennLive: GOP guv candidate Wagner renews call to defund Planned Parenthood. It’s still a bad idea

Scott Wagner Continues His Call To Defund Planned Parenthood

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

If there are two or three things that we know about GOP gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner, it’s that he’s no fan of taxes, big labor, or abortions.

The York County pol has said time and again this campaign season that he’s “100 percent pro-life” and would support pretty well anything that would restrict access to abortion services.

But that doesn’t mean that every time he’s asked, or says something about it, that his opponents aren’t going to make a thing out of it.

Monday was no different – and Wagner again (justifiably) found himself under fire.

During a speech to the monthly Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon Wagner underlined his support for cutting off the flow of taxpayer dollars to the women’s health organization Planned Parenthood.

Asked directly why he thought why defunding Planned Parenthood was a good idea, Wagner responded thus:

“Well, I’m 100 percent pro-life and I don’t believe the government should be funding an organization that performs abortion,” he said.

A bit of background:

Wagner is a co-sponsor of a Senate bill that would effectively defund Planned Parenthood by moving it to the back of the line for any state funding. The organization, which provides an array of women’s health services, largely treats low-income and Medicaid recipients.

The bill, which is now sitting in the Senate Appropriations Committee, mirrors a similar effort at the federal level to cut off taxpayer support to Planned Parenthood.

Opponents, including Vice President Mike Pence, have tried to paint Planned Parenthood as an “abortion factory.”

But as writers at New York Magazine’s woman-focused website, The Cut, have pointed out, “abortion accounts for only 3 percent of the organization’s health-care services (a statistic that conservatives claim distracts from the actual cost of abortion). The main reasons people visit a Planned Parenthood are contraceptive access (31 percent) and STI/STD testing and treatment (45 percent). More than double the number of people visited Planned Parenthood clinics in 2014 for pregnancy tests than for abortion procedures.”

It’s also not true that, as some critics maintain, that women would have access to abortion services through other clinics if federal funding for Planned Parenthood were to suddenly disappear.

“A study by the Guttmacher Institute found that in the 491 counties where there are currently Planned Parenthood clinics, 103 of them have no other clinics where low-income patients can gain access to affordable contraceptive services, should [Planned Parenthood’s] services be drained,” writers at The Cut noted.

And, in fact, healthcare costs would likely go up if the flow of money disappeared. Some estimates peg the increase in Medicaid spending as high as $650 million over 10 years.

And as we’ve noted in the past, with the U.S. Supreme Court becoming ever-more conservative, women’s rights and women’s health advocates are increasingly looking to friendly governors and Legislatures to protect access to abortion.

It also comes amid a series of regulatory changes, supported by the Trump administration, intended to restrict access to abortion.

Women’s health advocates are backing candidates, like Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who they think will protect access to abortion.

That’s made it one of the key issues of the 2018 campaign in Pennsylvania, where Democratic incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf has said he’ll veto any measure that restricts a woman’s right to choose.

The Republican Legislature, meanwhile? Not so much.

Before his exit from the Senate, Wagner signed on as a co-sponsor of a series of bills that would restrict access, including a Wolf-vetoed bill that would have banned abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy; outlawed a common, second-trimester procedure, and criminally punished doctors who performed it.

Among the bills Wagner also backed was a so-called “heartbeat” bill, which would  ban abortions at as early as six weeks, which is before most women even know that they’re pregnant.

In a statement, Wolf’s re-election campaign again condemned Wagner’s remarks, saying that with his support for that array of ban-bills, he’s “made it clear that, as governor, he would not stand up for the rights of Pennsylvania’s women.”

 

Read the piece here.

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VIDEO: Scott Wagner Doubles Down on Refusal to Release Tax Returns

Yesterday, speaking at the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner was asked again why he is refusing to release his tax returns.

Pennsylvania – Yesterday, speaking at the Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner was asked again why he is refusing to release his tax returns. In his response, Wagner doubled down on his decision to break decades of gubernatorial campaign tradition and hide critical information about his finances from the voters. Again, he said that he will not release his tax returns because he doesn’t want people to know how much he makes.

“Scott Wagner says his tax returns are ‘nobody’s business,’ but the people of Pennsylvania absolutely have a right to know what he is hiding,” said Beth Melena, communications director for the Wolf campaign. “Especially considering his company, PennWaste, is raising rates on small businesses and consumers while Scott Wagner is putting those profits into his campaign coffers.”

WATCH: https://youtu.be/HJCYSlrxH3s

 

BACKGROUND:

Wagner Said He Doesn’t Want Workers Knowing What He Makes. “Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner said he will not release a tax return because his income is nobody else’s business and he suggested that labor unions will use it to try to organize workers at the non-union waste-hauling business he owns.” [AP, 8/21/18]

VIDEO: Wagner Said He Will Not Release His Tax Returns. “[HANRAHAN:] Will you commit right now for releasing your tax returns and medical records? … [WAGNER:] No.” [WGAL Debate, 58:21, 3/01/18]

Wagner First General Election Gubernatorial Candidate Not To Release Tax Returns Since At Least The 1990s. “Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidates aren’t required by law to release their tax returns, but candidates for the commonwealth’s highest office have done so for at least six campaigns dating back to the 1990s … According to the Associated Press, state Sen. Scott Wagner, who is described as prominent in the south-central Pennsylvania waste-hauling industry, has refused to say why he won’t release his tax return.” [Altoona Mirror, Editorial, 3/25/18]

Wagner “Blasted” For Refusing To Release Tax Returns. “And [Democrats] have blasted him for refusing to release his tax returns, and for saying he would not relinquish ownership in his businesses — which are regulated by state government — if he were to become governor.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/07/18]

Editorial Boards Slammed Wagner For Refusing to Release Tax Returns.

Wagner’s remarks about his reluctance to reveal tax returns reveal much about the candidate [PennLive, Editorial, 8/22/18]

Tax returns more crucial [The Times-Tribune, Editorial, 8/13/18]

GOP Governor Candidate Scott Wagner Should Release His Tax Returns. [PennLive, Editorial, 7/26/18]

Candidates Should Release Tax Records. [Daily Item, Editorial, 7/27/18]

Candidates Should Reveal Tax Returns. [Times-Tribune, Editorial, 7/26/18]

Candidates For Pa. Governor Should Disclose Tax Returns.  [Altoona Mirror, Editorial, 3/25/18]

Candidate’s Should Open Tax Records. [Daily Item, Editorial, 3/14/18]

What Are Candidates Hiding By Refusing To Release Tax Returns? [The Intelligencer, Editorial, 4/15/18]

Gubernatorial Candidates Should Release Tax Returns. [Butler Eagle, Editorial, 3/14/18]

GOP Candidates For Governor Should Release Their Tax Returns. [LNP, Editorial, 3/14/18]

Penn Waste Is Raising Rates. “Penn Waste is bound by contracts with its municipal account holders, which usually last for terms of three to five years, Davidson said. If they don’t renegotiate rates now, municipalities will see them skyrocket to retroactively compensate Penn Waste for the revenue it lost on their accounts.” [The Burg, 5/25/18]

Penn Waste Exposed For Raising Rates Because Of Trump’s Trade War. “Penn Waste, which collects recycling from 70 municipalities in the region, implemented new recycling guidelines July 1 in response to changes in Chinese law that limited the recyclable material the country will accept… In response, Penn Waste also is approaching municipalities to see if they can renegotiate waste contracts to add a sustainability fee to help reduce contamination, according to the company’s website.” [York Dispatch, 8/01/18]

Wagner’s Hometown Newspaper Warned Consumers Of His Scheme To Raise Rates. “So, Wagner’s political guru, Donald Trump, starts an unnecessary trade war that hurts Wagner’s business. In response, Wagner wants to raise rates on small businesses and consumers all across this region.” [York Dispatch, Editorial, 8/06/18]

 

CONTACT: Beth Melena, beth@wolfforpa.com

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