Scott Wagner, Pennsylvania's Republican gubernatorial nominee, said he won't release a tax return because "that's my business" and due to concerns that labor unions will use the information to attempt to sign up workers at his non-union business, The Associated Press reported.
Although most candidates for governor have released, when asked, part or all of their federal tax returns going back at least two decades, the AP said, Wagner noted his different approach Monday night during a question-and-answer session in Erie, Pennsylvania.
"If I make money or don't make money, that's my business," Wagner told the questioner, the outlet said. "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.'"
More from the AP:
During his four years in the state Senate, Wagner singled out labor unions for his sharpest attacks. He said during the primary campaign that he supports "right to work" legislation, a measure that labor unions strongly oppose because it would prohibit them from collecting dues from employees who refuse to join the union or pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
The man Wagner hopes to beat, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, sought an extension on his 2017 tax return, but has pledged to release the first two pages of the document and open the rest of it to inspection by reporters after it is filed.
Wolf did something similar during his first campaign for governor in 2014, when he beat then-Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who also released a tax return. Labor unions are now among Wolf's biggest campaign donors, while Wagner is his own biggest campaign donor.
Pennsylvania state law does not require a gubernatorial candidate to disclose a tax return.
Rather, candidates are required to file what are called "statements of financial interest" with the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, which Wagner has done. 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.
The AP noted that a statement of financial interest isn't as revealing as a tax return, citing accountants and government watchdogs.
What does Wagner's statement of financial interest say?
The AP noted that Wagner's statement of financial interest reports over 30 income sources, among them York-based waste hauler Penn Waste Inc., which reported $75 million in revenue last year. Wagner is president of the company. The AP added that Wagner's SFI "also hints at holdings in hotels, freight hauling, property and a diesel engine dealership, as well as dozens of debts."
How did the Wagner campaign react to the controversy?
"Tom Wolf is so desperate to hide from his disaster of an education plan that will result in billions of dollars in crippling tax increases on hardworking Pennsylvanians that he is willing to invoke the failed 2016 Democratic playbook on tax returns," Wagner spokesman Andrew Romeo told TheBlaze Wednesday. "It didn't work then, and it won't work now."
Wagner has said he will keep his stake in Penn Waste — part of a waste-hauling industry heavily regulated by Pennsylvania — if he becomes governor, the AP reported.