FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Democratic Party demanded Tuesday that Republican gubernatorial candidates David Williams and Phil Moffett release their income tax returns, noting Williams has made similar demands of his political foes in the past.
At a news conference in Frankfort, party chairman Dan Logsdon read quotes from Williams during the 1991 gubernatorial campaign. At the time, Williams was managing Republican Larry Hopkins' campaign and called on Hop kins' primary challenger, Larry Forgy, to release 10 years of tax returns.
Forgy's release of only two years of tax returns "shows an arrogant, deliberate and almost desperate attempt to hide pertinent facts from the electorate," Williams said in a 1991 interview with the Herald-Leader.
Logsdon said Tuesday that once he is reminded of his 1991 statements, Williams, now the Senate president, will reverse his recent decision to keep his tax returns private.
"I feel certain that Sen. Williams has simply forgotten his previous statements, and once reminded of them, will follow his own advice and release his tax information," Logsdon said.
Earlier this month, the Herald-Leader reported that Williams had reported gambling losses of $36,000 from 1999 to 2002, according to his divorce records. In order to report those losses for tax purposes, Williams had to have won a greater amount than he lost, according to a 2003 document in his divorce case.
Scott Jennings, Williams' campaign manager, said Williams has reported much of the information contained in his income taxes on forms that were filed with the Legislative Ethics Commission and the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.
"Let me educate Mr. Logsdon on the financial disclosure forms filed by legislators and candidates for governor in Kentucky," Jennings said. "No other gubernatorial candidate in Kentucky history has such an extensive public disclosure of his personal financial history as David Williams. David has been filing financial disclosure forms with the legislative branch ethics commission since 1993, and this year filed an additional form with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission as a candidate."
Jennings said the Democratic Party's "sad, pathetic press conference," is an "admission that (Gov. Steve Beshear) has no agenda other than to distract from his own miserable record."
Forgy, in an interview Tuesday, said he thinks Williams' refusal to release his income tax filings is correct and that Williams' assertion in 1991 that tax returns should be public was "not right." According to a 1991 Courier-Journal article, Forgy eventually made 10 years of tax returns available.
Logsdon said he did not know whether gambling was the reason Williams is refusing to release his income tax returns but called Williams' changing position troubling.
"What's changed in the last 20 years?" Logsdon said.
If Williams' tax returns contain the same information as his financial disclosure forms, why not make that information public? Logsdon asked.
Williams' financial disclosure forms with the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, filed Feb. 15, list the sources of income for him and his wife, Robyn Williams. The form lists the Williamses' investments, the property they own, and rental and other income. The five-page form also asks for information about debts of more than $10,000 other than those for the purchase of goods, such as a car or a house.
In comparison, an income tax return shows how much money a person makes and from what sources. For example, Beshear's 2008 tax return, which he made public, shows he received $347 in royalties from oil and gas companies, that the Beshears' combined salary was $125,277, and that they received $119,409 from dividends and other investments in 2008.
But Jennings said that because Williams has been in the legislature for so long — he was first elected to the House in 1985 — there is more information about him in the public record than there is about Beshear.
"It is an absolute fact that there is more publicly available information about David Williams' finances than any other gubernatorial candidate this year or any other year," Jennings said.
Moffett, a Louisville businessman, also has refused to disclose his tax returns. Moffett and Williams face Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw in the May 17 Republican primary.
"Kentucky desperately needs a governor who makes decisions based on principle," said David Adams, Moffett's campaign manager. "Phil Moffett wants to abolish income taxes on the principles of economic efficacy and privacy rights. Taxing incomes kills job production, and we really can't afford that. Government uses tax returns as a weapon to strip privacy rights away from innocent Americans."
Holsclaw will release her income tax returns from 2003 to 2011 on Friday, according to her campaign staff. Holsclaw's campaign also called on Williams and Moffett to release their income tax returns.
"You can run from your problems and your past, but you cannot hide from them," said Mike Karem, a Holsclaw campaign consultant. "It's time for Williams and Moffett to come clean with the voters of Kentucky."
Beshear is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. At first, he refused to disclose his income tax returns during his 2007 race for governor against Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher. Beshear first released a list of his assets and liabilities, then decided to make his income tax returns public after being reminded of statements he made in his 1996 U.S. Senate race against incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell.
Beshear has made his tax returns public since he was elected to office.