This past Friday, a Detroit News report detailed how Kevin Rinke, Ryan Kelley, Tudor Dixon, Garrett Soldano, and Ralph Rebandt all refused to be transparent with Michiganders and disclose even a single year of tax returns.

Every gubernatorial candidate, including Governor Whitmer, was asked to submit their tax returns for 2021. Only Whitmer complied, noted for voluntarily “post[ing] the documents publicly each year.” 

Meanwhile, Dixon didn’t respond at all, Rinke panned tax returns as “irrelevant,” and Soldano, who originally led the charge for personal transparency and “full financial disclosure,” now is refusing to release his until everyone else does. Kelley and Rebandt both “planned to release their tax returns,” but then “never followed through.”

MDP spokesperson Rodericka Applewhaite issued the following statement:

“Michiganders should not expect anything resembling transparency from the administrations of either Kevin Rinke, Ryan Kelley, Tudor Dixon, Garrett Soldano, or Ralph Rebandt – all of whom couldn’t be bothered to clear the very low bar of disclosing one year of tax returns. Michiganders deserve leadership that is honest and accessible like Governor Whitmer, who is the first governor in state history to voluntarily disclose tax returns and personal financial information annually.”

See excerpts below on the questions this raises “about whether the GOP hopefuls will follow through on transparency pledges they’ve made on the campaign trail” and read the full report here.

Detroit News: Michigan GOP Gov Hopefuls Haven’t Released Their Tax Returns, Breaking With Tradition

By Craig Mauger

The five Republican candidates campaigning this year to be Michigan’s next governor had released, as of Friday, less information about their personal finances than gubernatorial hopefuls dating back at least two decades.

The situation, which could change before the Aug. 2 primary election, currently breaks with recent tradition in Michigan and raises questions about whether the GOP hopefuls will follow through on transparency pledges they’ve made on the campaign trail, according to the candidates’ critics.

However, some longtime Michigan political observers said the reluctance to release financial details could also be a repercussion of the unusual nature of the 2022 GOP primary field, which features five first-time candidates for public office.

“They are totally off the wall in terms of historical measures of people running for governor,” said Bill Ballenger, a political commentator and former state senator in Michigan.

“You can say, on the one hand, that it’s a little surprising that none of them have done this,” Ballenger said of the candidates releasing their tax returns. “On the other hand, you can say: What do you expect?”

On July 7, 26 days before the Aug. 2 primary election, The Detroit News asked all five GOP candidates and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whom the Republicans are hoping to challenge in November, to release copies of their 2021 federal tax returns by Thursday.

The disclosures would provide information about the candidates’ income, tax payments and charitable contributions last year.

Only Whitmer, who posts the documents publicly each year, had a campaign employee share her filing with The News by Friday.

After a gubernatorial debate hosted by WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record” in East Lansing on Friday morning, chiropractor Garrett Soldano of Mattawan and businessman Kevin Rinke of Bloomfield Township said they wouldn’t release their returns.

Soldano said he wanted “full financial disclosure” from the candidates, saying that would provide more information about candidates’ investments than a tax return would.

“Tax returns are a very, very small piece of the pie,” he said. “If we want truth and transparency, let’s get it out there. And that’s what I want.”

Soldano has called for making “Michigan one of the most transparent states in the nation.” But on Friday, he said when the other candidates for governor agree to release a financial disclosure, he would do it “together” with them.

Rinke, who has vowed to spend $10 million of his own money on his campaign for governor, said his tax returns had “passed the scrutiny of the IRS.”

“They’re irrelevant,” Rinke said of the tax returns.

Two other Republican candidates, real estate broker Ryan Kelley of Allendale and Pastor Ralph Rebandt of Farmington Hills, said they planned to release their tax returns. Neither of them had followed through as of Friday evening.

It’s unclear whether conservative commentator Tudor Dixon of Norton Shores will disclose hers. […]

Ahead of the 2018 primary election, three of the four Republican candidates for governor, including GOP nominee Bill Schuette, and two of the three Democratic candidates, including Whitmer, released their tax returns, according to the Associated Press.

“The fact is every statewide elective officeholder and those who may seek statewide office should reveal their taxes,” said Schuette, then-Michigan’s attorney general, in 2017. “This is about accountability, and it’s about being transparent so there’s never a question of a conflict of interest.”

Rusty Hills, a longtime Schuette aide, said Schuette released his tax information annually while serving as the state’s top law enforcement officer from 2011 through 2018.

It’s important for the public to have some “basic facts” about the candidates who want to lead Michigan’s 10 million residents, Hills said.

Rodericka Applewhaite, spokeswoman for the Michigan Democratic Party, noted in a statement the 2022 GOP candidates for governor have touted the need for new policies requiring financial disclosures from officeholders serving in Lansing. […]

“The Republican candidates for governor have staked their campaigns on lies, baseless conspiracy theories and radical agendas,” Applewhaite argued. “So it should not come as a surprise that they refuse any measure of transparency in their campaigns.”

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