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BRIDGE MAGAZINE: Michigan Libertarian governor candidates decline to disclose financial details

income tax

Neither of the Libertarian Party candidates for Michigan’s governor would release their 2017 tax returns to Bridge Magazine.

Bill Gelineau, who works at a Grand Rapids-area title agency, and John Tatar, a retired teacher from Wayne County’s Redford Township, both said they comply with state campaign finance laws. Anything beyond that, they said, is voluntary.

Libertarians in Michigan will choose their candidate for governor in a primary challenge, the first for the party in state history.

Bill Gelineau

Gelineau would not release his or his wife’s 2016 or 2017 returns, saying that Michigan’s campaign finance reporting rules are “extraordinary” and his wife is entitled to privacy.

He reported to Bridge in February earnings of between $48,000 and $60,000 each for himself and his wife; roughly $700,000 in his 401(k) account and about $450,000 in his wife’s 401(k); a home in Lowell, though he did not disclose its value; and a six-employee title agency that has paper value of about $150,000. He did not disclose any payments for speeches, travel reimbursements or gifts.

Gelineau wrote Bridge in early May that “I made about ($5,000) less (in 2017) as the real estate market was not quite as strong. Our accounts grew nicely in 2017 as the stock market did well — and have subsequently crashed in the last 90 days like everyone else. So, the totals I previously disclosed are a bit smaller than in February.”

He added: “As I stated then, I believe that the whole matter of personal wealth to be vastly overblown. It might be said as an editorial commentary that it's high time we push back against the notion that voters need or deserve to know every detail of our lives.

“Honestly, I think the detail previously provided in broad terms is more than enough to give some idea of our financial standing.

“Two truths about my wife and I. One, we're more fortunate (or have worked harder) than most Michigan citizens. Second, we're not in the same category with Ms. (Gretchen) Whitmer or Mr. (Bill) Schuette. Frankly, I'm not sure any of that matters if we're following the campaign finance rules.”

John Tatar

Tatar did not respond to Bridge’s initial request in February.

In early May, he emailed Bridge: “I am a proponent of the Republic(s) and I am complying with the law that allows me to run for governor. The request to disclose my personal financial information and/or tax returns be they federal or state can only be voluntarily disclosed in the Republic(s); hence I choose not to.

“Any negative inference to my position to not disclose exposes those who hold such negative inferences to be uneducated as to how the Republic(s) are to operate as concerns ‘public functionaries’. Disclosure to campaign finances has already been made and will continue to be made according to the law.”

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